For Botley Road traders, 2023 has been a “year from hell”.

Home to greengrocers, hairdressers and mechanic shops, the arterial road in West Oxford has been effectively cut off from the rest of the city.

With a closure at one end blocking traffic from Oxford and roadworks at the other causing gridlock, Botley Road has been compared to an “island”.

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And marooned in the middle are business owners who have seen their passing trade “devastated” over the last eight months.

Oxford Mail: Zack Khan, owner of First Stop Spanner Works tyre shop, criticised the communication from Network RailZack Khan, owner of First Stop Spanner Works tyre shop, criticised the communication from Network Rail (Image: Albert Tait)

“It’s been a year from hell,” said Zack Khan, owner of First Stop Spanner Works tyre shop off Botley Road.

“A really difficult year.

“The general perception is that West Oxford is best to avoid.

“People are queuing for hours to get here. Passing trade has been devastated.”

The disruption began with the closure of Botley Road at the rail bridge in April while Network Rail carries out improvements of Oxford rail station.

With no cars allowed through from the direction of the city centre, and pedestrians funnelled through a narrow alleyway underneath the railway bridge, traders saw a fall-off in customers almost straightaway.

Oxford Mail: Network Rail's work on Botley Road will last until October 2024Network Rail's work on Botley Road will last until October 2024 (Image: Photo: Oxford Mail)

Oxford Mail: Diggers on the Botley Road site, next to the station, at around 11pm on Saturday, September 2, the

Many hoped to recoup their losses from October to March 2024, with Network Rail promising to temporarily reopen the road during this period.

But just weeks before the opening day, the rail authority backtracked and announced plans to work straight through the winter.

Top bosses apologised and Network Rail started a Shop Local online campaign which “shines a spotlight” on businesses in the area.

But business owners were left disappointed and fearful for their Christmas takings.

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Mr Khan said: “All the businesses around here were planning to make up for our lost trade.

“It would be nice if Network Rail could give us reassurance that the road will open in October next year, or seeing as they’ve had an extra five month period, maybe they could open early.”

Oxford Mail: National Highways' roadworks at the Botley InterchangeNational Highways' roadworks at the Botley Interchange (Image: Ben Hardy)

Trader conditions were harmed further when National Highways installed roadworks at Botley Interchange in September, narrowing the key roundabout to a single lane.

It means those visiting Botley Road via the A34 – the only alternative route since the Botley Road closure – have endured months of traffic misery.

With queues reaching up to five hours and fights even breaking out in the congestion at particularly bad times, Botley Road traders claim customers are going elsewhere.

Mr Khan said: “I had a customer who went all the way to Swindon to get his MOT done.

"All these customers in Eynsham and places, they’ll just go to Witney or Swindon.”

Oxford Mail: Matthew Alden of Aldens Butchers on the leftMatthew Alden of Aldens Butchers on the left (Image: Contributed)

Matthew Alden, the managing director of Alden Butchers in Osney Mead, added that he was thinking of moving the business's delivery centre because of traffic at the interchange.

He said: “We were coping with the Botley Road closure, but the roadworks at Botley Interchange have made it so hard for our delivery drivers.”

Although the Botley Interchange work is set to end in March, and Botley Road is expected to reopen in October, disruption is expected to last on Botley Road until 2025.

Thames Water is expected to reduce Osney Bridge to a single lane of traffic until March 2025 while it replaces a leaking water pipe.