Motorists faced traffic misery yesterday morning (September 14) with commuters stuck in jams of up to five hours around the Botley Interchange on the edge of Oxford

Thames Valley Police was called in to manage the chaos after improvement works to the structure of the bridges caused gridlock on the A420 and A34.

This comes following the closure of Botley Road at the rail bridge in April which has since pushed more traffic than usual onto the roads around the city.

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One motorist Fiona Pocock left Kingston Bagpuize at 7.45am and did not arrive at the Seacourt Park and Ride in Botley until 12.37pm.

Oxford Mail:

The 8.6 mile journey normally takes 17 minutes.  

She said: “I travelled the 250 plus miles from my elderly mother’s home in Hartlepool last night to be ready to be at work in Oxford this morning.

“I may as well have stayed with her last night and commuted from Hartlepool.

“The traffic was at a complete standstill.

“You expect traffic in Oxford to be bad, but I have never seen it like this.”

Another driver caught in the delays was Richard Dick who said it took him three hours and five minutes to travel from Appleton to Walton Street via the A420 and A34.

He added: “Many people suffer from long journey times around Oxford each day, but this might be a record.”

The Botley Interchange has been closed by National Highways overnight this week after the improvement works started on Monday.

But according to reports, concrete barriers restricting access to parts of the interchange have been left up during the day as well.

Oxford city councillor for Osney and St Thomas, Susanna Pressel has labelled the timetabling of the works as “ridiculous.”

She said: "I assume these National Highways road works were planned long in advance, in which case it is absolutely ridiculous that they were timetabled to coincide with Network Rail's work at Oxford Station.

“It is appalling that drivers are stuck in traffic jams for hours and even more appalling that residents in Botley Road now sometimes have enormous difficulty getting out of where they live by car.

“There are some complicated diversions listed on the Highways Agency website, but they are not easy to find.

Oxford Mail:

“People are panicking.

“The county council is supposed to co-ordinate road works to avoid this kind of thing, but the Highways Agency doesn't bother to contact them."

She added: "These works are supposed to be taking place only at night, but I gather National Highways are currently leaving their concrete barriers up during the day as well.

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“What a disaster. The county council is trying to get them to change this."

MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran added: “I absolutely share the frustration of local residents in and around West Oxford at the disruption caused by the closure of Botley Interchange.

"People are rightly angry that lessons have not been learnt following the chaos of the Wolvercote Bridge repair and National Highways have once again failed to stick to their own timetable.

“My team have been in contact with National Highways about this morning’s disruption and called for appropriate mitigations to be put in place to ensure we do not witness the same scenes tomorrow morning."

National Highways has been contacted for comment on the delays. 

A spokesman said: "We apologise for the congestion around Botley Interchange and we are taking additional measures to minimise disruption while this vital maintenance work takes place.

"The barriers at the roundabout above the A34 need to replaced.

"To protect those working on the scheme and ensure the safety of those travelling close by it has been necessary to put concrete barriers which reduces capacity for short section of carriageway over the A34 on both bridges.

"We do all we can to avoid disruption and to raise awareness of our plans we sent around 7,000 letters to local residents and businesses.

"We also have over 400 signs in place. These warn of delays and a new temporary road layout as far away as the M4 and M40, with many of these in place for over a month.

"We are continuing to look into any further measures we can take, but would continue to ask people to allow additional time to complete their journeys if they need to travel through this section of road."

In a public statement on Thursday afternoon, Oxfordshire County Council warned motorists to be prepared for further disruption on Friday as the National Highways work continues. 

It added: "We are continuing to work closely with them on measures to reduce disruption, but congestion is still likely."