A £102m funding deal which will lead to the dualling of the A40 between Witney and Oxford has been finalised.

Oxfordshire County Council has announced it has entered into an agreement with Homes England for the funding, which must be spent by March 2024, after its cabinet agreed to sign a contract last month.

The money, from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, will convert the often clogged commuting route into north Oxford into a dual carriageway, as well as paying for a route into a new park and ride at Eynsham.

The announcement that the deal had been agreed was welcomed as crucial to the county by its council leader Ian Hudspeth.

He said: “The signing of this funding agreement for more than £102m from Homes England is pivotal and will help ease congestion on the A40 giving it a much-needed upgrade to support sustainable growth in West Oxfordshire.

“The A40 is already above capacity, severely affecting residents and businesses.

“The massive improvements we can now deliver with this funding will reduce congestion, improve public transport, making journeys more reliable and shorter and linking this route to the future Eynsham park and ride.”

The route carries up to 32,000 vehicles a day on the section between Witney and Oxford, according to the council.

The £102m will primarily fund an extension of the dual carriageway from Witney to the proposed Eynsham park and ride, including improving cycle paths along the route, which currently run either side of the road.

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There are also plans to extend the A40 westbound bus lane from west of the Duke’s Cut, which links the Thames with the Oxford Canal, to the proposed Eynsham park and ride. The eastbound bus lane has been paid for by a different fund. Road and railway bridges could also be improved.

Though the money is ringfenced for upgrades to the A40, its true aim is to ‘unlock’ housing in West Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail:

Proposed Cassington junction looking east as part of the A40 upgrades. Picture: Oxfordshire County Council

If the new roads did not go ahead, then large new housing estates planned in the district could be turned down on the grounds that there is not enough room on the roads for the extra cars.

The scheme promises to pave the way for the construction of 4,813 new homes in West Oxfordshire, including 2,222 ‘affordable’ homes.

The funding deal was also welcomed by James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council.

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He said: “The importance of this funding cannot be underestimated. The A40 has been beyond its capacity for many years and this will help relieve congestion on a key route from Witney to Oxford and beyond.

“It will also form part of an integrated transport strategy involving the planned Eynsham Park and Ride and Hanborough Station which is designed to help with housing and population growth in the future, particularly around Eynsham and the Salt Cross garden village site.”