MOTORISTS faced congestion and delays of up to an hour-and-a half after the A34 was partially closed after a roadside verge collapsed following flooding caused by a burst water pipe.

There was traffic chaos throughout the weekend as the A34 southbound – part of the Oxford ring road – was closed to the west of the city.

There were also reports of some homes in the Botley area losing their water supply.

READ MORE: A34 CLOSED after water pipe bursts and floods road

Thames Water last night said it had fixed the pipe, with Highways England reopening the road in time for this morning's rush hour.

Oxford Mail: Thames Water workers scrambled to the scene to repair the leak. Picture: Ed Nix Thames Water workers scrambled to the scene to repair the leak. Picture: Ed Nix

There had been fears further disruption could gridlock the city, which is braced for heavy traffic today as pupils return to school, and St Giles is closed for the annual two-day fair.

The disruption came as Oxfordshire County Council prepares to launch a consultation tomorrow on plans to bring in new 'traffic filters' blocking city roads to most motorists, a move which would force yet more traffic onto the already congested A34.

Problems began on Friday afternoon with a burst water main flooding the southbound carriageway of the trunk road, between the A420 at Botley and A423 at Hinksey Hill. This led to the collapse of a section of the verge as a large water-filled sinkhole opened up beside the road.

Traffic was diverted via alternative routes including the A420 while Thames Water workers attempted to fix the leak – closing the road all weekend.

Oxford Mail: The leak flooded the road. Picture: Thames WaterThe leak flooded the road. Picture: Thames Water

The closure caused chaos and heavy congestion between the Botley and Peartree junctions. Oxford United was forced to issue a warning to fans as they travelled in for the club’s match against Burton Albion.

Photographer Ed Nix, from Chipping Norton, was one of those affected by the disruption, joining the A34 at Peartree Roundabout without realising it was closed further south. He said: “People were still joining the A34 at Peartree and from there it didn’t look that bad.

“But it quickly stopped and became awful. There were so many cars reversing back up the slip road when they realised what was happening. It was absolutely horrendous.”

It took Mr Nix an hour-and-a-half to get from Peartree to Botley – a distance of three miles.

Oxford Mail: A huge sinkhole opened up along the road. Picture: Thames WaterA huge sinkhole opened up along the road. Picture: Thames Water

Frustrated by the lack of information from Thames Water, Vale of White Horse district councillor Emily Smith, who represents the ward of Botley and Sunningwell, took to social media over the weekend to share updates with householders and businesses.

She said that whenever there was a major incident on the A34, there was “confusion and concern” from people who need to access their homes via the trunk road, due to the lack of clear information.

The Lib Dem councillor said the incident was just one issue which formed part of wider concerns by residents about the road, which many believe is not fit for purpose.

She said: “The A34 goes through our ward and it is a big issue. The congestion and air pollution through Botley is always a big issue. It does not take much for one incident on the A34 to happen, and for it to cause travel chaos.”

Oxford Mail: Traffic was congested on the A34 due to the issue. Picture: Ed NixTraffic was congested on the A34 due to the issue. Picture: Ed Nix

Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway management, defended his authority’s plans.

He said: “It is not the plan of the county council to put congestion onto the ring road. The plans are about reducing car congestion overall.

“I do not think these things are linked. This is an exceptional event for reasons outside our control, and within Thames Water’s control. There will always been emergencies and they will always cause disruption.”

Mr Grant said he was grateful to Thames Water for moving quickly over the weekend.

A Thames Water spokesperson apologised to motorists for “the inconvenience” over the weekend and thanked them for their patience. 


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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