Plans for a second bridge across the River Thames and a bypass have been hailed as the answers to Abingdon’s traffic problems.

The Vale of White Horse District Council has drawn up a scheme which would see a southern bypass sweep around the town.

It wants a bridge built over the River Ock and – most significantly – another crossing over the River Thames. At the moment traffic can only get across at Bridge Street.

The local authority also wants to press for the long-hoped-for Lodge Hill interchange upgrade – turning the current two-way junction into a four-way junction on to the A34.

Its idea has been hailed by community leaders as a “positive long-term move” and a solution to the traffic clogged town, although Oxfordshire County Council has warned the scheme would be “very costly”.

Stuart Bates, president of Abingdon’s Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is exactly what Abingdon needs. It is absolutely fantastic news.

“Until Abingdon gets a second bridge you are not going to resolve the traffic problems that you have in the town centre.”

The plan – which is expected to be rubber-stamped by councillors tonight before being opened up to public consultation – sets out where almost 12,000 new homes could be built in the district.

The plan for a southern bypass is part of the proposal to build 1,500 new homes in the south-west corner of Abingdon.

The county council has recently carried out major changes in theAbingdon Integrated Traffic Strategy (Abits) – in a bid to combat congestion, but many businesses feel the work led to more problems.

Businessman Steve King, 58, who owns several properties in the town, said: “The bridge is much needed and would alleviate Abingdon of its traffic problems.”

Abingdon town councillor Tim Oates said: “As a town council we are keen that this development of the road and the second river crossing goes ahead.

“It would be a positive long-term move and would benefit the town.”

The town council has long pressed Oxfordshire County Council for a second crossing over the Thames and a relief road, but Government cash has not been available.

Peter Mann, the county council’s assistant head of transport, pointed out the schemes would cost several million pounds to implement – but would not be drawn on exactly how much.

He said: “Such schemes are likely to be very costly and, unless developer funding could be secured, would require Government money to deliver.

“This would involve justifying them to Government against fierce competition from other schemes in other areas across the South East region."

Tonight, district councillors will decide whether to approve the proposals and put them out to public consultation in January.

District council spokesman Nikki Malin said the public’s chance to pass comment would end on February 27.

She said: “Nothing will happen until the framework is approved in 2011 and the planners estimate with something like a major housing scheme, it would take about three years.”

District council leader Tony de Vere said: “A southern relief road in Abingdon could bring a great benefit to those in south Abingdon and those who struggle in Drayton Road. There are opportunities within the document and it sets out what is a realistic opportunity for infrastructure to come with this development.”

The document also includes the proposal to build a Marcham bypass. Marcham Parish councillor Marjorie Evans has campaigned for 25 years for traffic to be diverted away from the village.

She said: “This is absolutely excellent. It would make a whole world of difference to the village.

“The Vale has always supported the bypass, the problem is one of funding.”

Thousands of new homes will be built across the Vale of White Horse if its latest plan is approved.

The Government has said the council must find space for 11,560 new homes during the next 18 years.

Developments of 7,090 homes are already built or have been given planning permission — meaning 4,470 extra properties need to be constructed.

The largest chunk of housing — 2,300 — could go to the west of Didcot, between the A4130 and the B4493 Wantage Road.

A new road running along the A34 would be built to link the A4130 with the A417.

Fifteen-hundred new homes could be built in south-west Abingdon or Wantage.

As part of the plan, Abingdon’s Bury Street precinct and Charter areas would be developed, with the possibility of the library and health centre being expanded.

In Wantage and Grove, 250 homes will probably be built on green fields.

Two new roads could be funded by the development — one to the north of Grove and one to the north-east of Wantage.

Development contributions could also improve Wantage Leisure Centre.

Over the next 20 years, the area around Wallingford Street in Wantage, Waitrose and Campbells Yard east of Market Place will be redeveloped to complement the Limborough Road development.

A new business park could be built in the area and land will be safeguarded for a new railway station at Grove.

In Faringdon, a site south of Park Road has been identified for 420 new homes and employment.

In the town centre, the area around the Budgens shop and Southampton Street car park may be redeveloped to provide more shopping space and better car parking.