The councillor in charge of highway management has deemed the Botley Road closure a great success so far.

Andrew Gant, a Liberal Democrat cabinet member on Oxfordshire County Council, visited the rail bridge site this morning.

The road closed for six months yesterday to allow for a multi-million-pound redevelopment of Oxford Station to take place.

READ MORE: Botley Road closure: Oxford retailers worried for the future

The arterial route into the city is set to shut for a similar period next year.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Gant said: “Day two of the Botley Road works and I’ve come down myself first thing in the morning to see how it is going.

“Only anecdotal of course but so far, there has been a lot of cooperation, and this is working really well.

“My thanks to everybody who is taking the trouble to brief themselves and find out what’s going on and to all the marshals and staff who are keeping things flowing.

Oxford Mail:


“The big test will be next week when schools and university students start to come back to Oxford, but so far this seems to be going well.”

Currently only pedestrians and cyclists can pass under the bridge, with motorists having to find an alternative route into Oxford.

Buses are currently terminating at Osney Bridge and passengers must walk through the construction area and pick up another bus on the other side.

This has raised concerns about the safety of bus passengers with mobility issues.

Limited measures have been put in place to support the elderly and disabled with Network Rail running just three buses a week that would take passengers from one termination point to another.

According to the Oxford Bus Company, Network Rail is also developing an audio guide to help visually impaired customers navigate the transfer.

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company managing director said: “Access for passengers with mobility challenges is an issue we raised with Network Rail and with Oxfordshire County Council as a concern during planning discussions.

“We spent significant time working with them to identify whether it would be possible for bus stops to be moved closer to the station area than the current arrangements at Osney Island to try to mitigate this concern. 

Oxford Mail:

“Unfortunately, this did not prove possible for safety reasons, due to the need to maintain vehicle access to residential properties in Mill Street, Abbey Road and Cripley Road during the closure.”

READ MORE: Botley road closure: Uncertainty for Oxford bus passengers

Mr Gant’s positive assessment of the project so far, comes following comments made by the chair of the Oxford Civic Society, Ian Green yesterday, who claimed the Botley Road closure was a ‘useful opportunity’ for Oxford.

The Oxford Civic Society is a registered charity that describes itself as ‘an independent voice for Oxford.’

The group has been critical of the county council’s approach to traffic reduction.

The council has introduced a number of measures to reduce traffic in Oxford in recent months including the controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme or LTNs.

LTN bollards have been put in place in East Oxford and Cowley that are intended to prevent motor vehicles from taking shortcuts down residential streets.

Mr Green said: “The closure of Botley Road to all but pedestrians and cyclists is likely to cause immense disruption not just locally but also by displacing traffic to other routes into the city.

“It has also raised legitimate concerns about access for emergency vehicles.

“We hope that all this will be carefully monitored to see whether the second closure planned for 2024 might be managed differently.

“But we also believe that the closure presents the County Council with an unexpected opportunity to revisit and improve its own traffic plans as well as to explain them better to the public.

“Oxford Civic Society supports the intention to reduce traffic in the city centre, but is concerned that the County Council’s proposals have not yet been presented in a way that makes them acceptable to residents.

“In particular, we feel that there needs to be more public discussion about how the experimental traffic filters will be monitored and evaluated.”

But businesses on and around the Botley Road have said there are very few positives to the closure at the rail bridge and some have expressed concerns for the future.

The owner of Aldens MeatMaster in the Osney Mead Industrial Estate fears the signs on Botley Road saying that the road ahead is closed will drive customers away.

He has asked for there to be clearer signposting that businesses in the area remain open.

The company posted on Facebook: “We are open as usual... despite Botley Road being closed.

“It would be nice if Oxford City Council and Network Rail put a sign up saying ‘businesses along Botley Road and Osney Mead open as normal.”

Zach Iqbal, owner of First Stop Spanner Works garage and Xeromotorbikes in Ferry Hinksey Road, said the closure could have a catastrophic effect on his garage business.

He said: “70 per cent of our clients come from the city and they can’t exactly cycle their cars to us.”

Oxford Mail:

He called on Network Rail to hold a meeting to tell traders how it planned to mitigate the effect of the closure on local businesses.

He said: “I told them about the impact that it would have on all the businesses in the area.

“They have not been very constructive at all.

“They just produced a really poor leaflet and gave it to me on Thursday – only four days before the closure."

He added: “There are now so many empty businesses in Oxford city centre. If they want to shut down the whole local economy then they are doing the right thing.”