Your questions about the A40 programme answered

This page includes the most talked about elements of the A40 programme.

What we are delivering as part of the A40 Programme

The following schemes make up the A40 Programme; each has its own webpage where you'll find more information.

Eynsham Park and Ride 

A new secure 850 space park and ride public transport interchange with cycle parking, lighting and CCTV. This site will be serviced by a dedicated access junction from the A40 and have futureproofed active travel and public transport connectivity into the proposed Salt Cross Garden Village.

A40 HIF2 Smart Corridor 

There are three schemes under this heading.

A40 dualling extension

Widening of the A40 between Witney and Eynsham from a single carriageway to a dual carriageway road, including walking and cycling pathway improvements (the ’dualling’ project).

A40 integrated bus lanes

A westbound and eastbound bus lane and walking and cycling pathway improvements on the A40 between Eynsham and Duke’s Cut (the ‘joint bus lanes’ project).

A40 Duke's Cut

Capacity and connectivity improvements at Duke’s Cut canal and railway bridges (bridge works to allow delivery of an eastbound bus lane with walking and cycling pathway improvements through this area) (the ‘Duke’s Cut’ project).

A40 access to Witney 

Junction improvements at Witney (Shores Green) to relieve congestion within Witney town centre and improve access to/from the A40 from north and east Witney.

A40 Oxford North

A scheme delivering highway improvements, bus priority measures and enhanced cycle and walking provision located between Wolvercote Roundabout and the A34 viaduct.

What we mean by A40 Smart Corridor

SMART stands for 'safety, mobility, automated, real-time traffic management'.

The objectives of smart corridors are to dynamically manage traffic flows to improve sustainable mobility, corridor safety and effective flows of people and goods by systematically utilising digital technology.

Why we are delivering the A40 programme

The aims of the A40 programme are to:

  • promote sustainable travel by providing greater travel choice and encouraging more use of bus, cycling and walking
  • increase transport capacity along the A40 in West Oxfordshire
  • deliver faster and more reliable bus journey times
  • improve safety for all corridor users and reduce environmental impacts such as air pollution and noise;
  • improve accessibility and connectivity to employment and public services
  • support housing delivery in West Oxfordshire
  • promote economic growth in Oxfordshire and creation of new jobs.

How much will the A40 programme cost

The overall cost of the programme is currently forecast at £180m.

How we are funding the improvement works

The programme is funded through a number of different sources.

  • Housing Infrastructure Fund - £102m
  • Department for Transport retained Local Growth Fund - £35m
  • Housing and Growth Deal - £18m
  • Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership - £11.5m
  • With the balance coming from Section 106 developer contributions

Improvements to public transport

Public transport services in West Oxfordshire will benefit from having dedicated bus lanes connecting Eynsham with Oxford. This will allow for faster and more reliable journeys by public transport along the A40.  

There will be opportunities for bus operators to improve services from Carterton, Witney and Eynsham to Oxford. Bus operators will introduce new direct services to serve east Oxford, Headington and Cowley.  

Improvements for cycling and walking

A key aim of the A40 corridor improvements is to enhance provision for walking and cycling for local trips (0-4km) and intermediate length journeys (5-15km).

The scheme will provide new, modern, fit for purpose facilities between Witney, Eynsham and Oxford.  

The new A40 pathways will be a shared-use bidirectional route 3m wide for most sections. It will be up to 3.5m in Eynsham (current path typically 1m). The increased width is designed to ensure safe passing and overtaking without hindering the speed of travel.  

At Duke's Cut bridges, the A40 shared pathway will link to the National Cycle Network (NCN5) off-road pathway and the Oxford Canal towpath, allowing users to direct and traffic-free / low traffic route into Oxford.

Integrating and coordinating the A40 scheme with development plans for housing and employment

We're working with developers to understand their requirements and timescales and to coordinate design and construction works. This will minimise disruption to residents, local business and public transport.

When we will start construction works

Main construction works will be phased and are scheduled to start in mid-2022 with completion by the end of 2024.

How to keep up to date with what's going on

You can keep up to date with progress via the A40 improvements project page.

We will post updates on Oxfordshire County Council’s Facebook and Twitter page.

You can also sign up to our project e-bulletin which will be sent out via email.

How you can ask questions or make a complaint

Email your questions or complaint to A40Corridor@oxfordshire.gov.uk, or call us on 0345 310 11 11.

Benefits

Local Transport Plan (LTP4)

The LTP4 set A40 route strategy objectives. The objectives are to:

  • improve travel times and journey reliability along the A40 corridor, particularly between Witney and Oxford
  • stimulate economic growth, in line with the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan
  • improve safety and reduce environmental impacts such as air pollution and noise along the A40 corridor.

A40 corridor

The A40 corridor includes existing junctions and numerous direct access points. Most of the direct accesses will be closed, consolidating turning movements safely into a few additional junctions. With other improvements, the A40 corridor will provide greater resilience for temporary works or incidents, but most of all improve better infrastructure to support journey reliability, particularly for public transport users.

Crucially the A40 improvements support much-needed housing and economic growth needs for the region to enable current and future generations to live and work in the area. Indeed the proposals have attracted interest from housing/property developers and employers.

Traffic levels post-COVID-19

OCC keeps detailed traffic information records and has been reviewing travel pattern impacts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.  General traffic levels on the A40 corridor have returned to close to pre-pandemic levels, whilst public transport passenger totals remain somewhat suppressed as social distance obligations remain in place. 

With more than three years to go before the A40 Programme is fully constructed, and given the policy priority for sustainable transport promotion, the central planning scenario is for public transport passenger levels to fully recover and subsequently increase with the scheme in place.

There have been very significant recent shifts in how and why people travel. Changes in the nature of working and shopping, new technologies and working from home opportunities have all been brought into sharp focus in light of Covid-19.  It is anticipated that these trends will to an extent help moderate peak period general traffic pressures on the A40, and that this will be balanced by new trip-making from the corridor’s planned new developments.

Supporting the A40 infrastructure works, and to best enable the scheme’s objectives to be fulfilled, there will need to be a comprehensive behaviour change programme drawn up to capitalise on changing trends, moves towards low carbon technologies and to promote sustainable, active and shared travel.

Managing traffic pressure at Wolvercote roundabout

The vehicle capacity at Wolvercote Roundabout from the A40 is limited (currently around 800-900 vehicles per hour) and is not being materially increased as part of the current A40 improvements. The vast majority of vehicles using the roundabout are private cars with very low occupancy which means that the numbers of people using the roundabout is typically around 1200 people per hour.

The most effective way of increasing capacity for the movement of people and goods at this location will rely on reducing the numbers of low occupancy private vehicles by offering attractive alternatives that can change behaviour and shift many more local trips to public transport, cycling or shared car travel.The A40 corridor improvements enables this by laying the foundation for mode shift. Other complementary initiatives and parallel schemes within Oxfordshire’s overall transport strategy together will support and extend these shifts.

Traffic congestion on the A40

The A40 currently experiences congested conditions for extended periods. With the A40 programme in place there are some predicted journey time reliability improvements for general traffic, through the enhancements in capacity along the new dualling section and enhancements at junction and junction capacity enhancements. However, the primary focus of the scheme will be to deliver significant improvements for bus and active travel so that future travel decisions are made based on a viable choice of alternatives with a greater proportion of trips moving to sustainable travel modes. These shifts are vital to align with the range of policy directives including the need to meet achieve net zero-carbon levels to address climate change.

Local journeys and regional travel along the A40

Surveys undertaken in February 2020 (before the pandemic) recorded the vehicle trips that people using the A40 are making. These show a significant proportion of people are traveling to or from Summertown, Central Oxford and Botley with many trips to the eastern part of Oxford including the hospitals, Headington and Cowley Business Parks. Longer distance traffic as a proportion of total traffic on the A40 between Witney and Oxford is around 30%-35% based on these latest survey findings.

Planned shifts to bus travel and active travel for local journeys will help to reduce the current traffic levels on the A40.  Also, the planned improvements to rail services at Long Hanborough for connections beyond Oxford to London and the South East will provide a public transport alternative for people currently using the A40.

An A40 to A44 connection

For more information about this scheme the web page can be found here.

The A40 at Eynsham into the future

With planned developments north and west of Eynsham, and policy encouraging future local trips to be made by active travel, the volume of pedestrians and cyclists using and crossing the A40 will increase substantially into the future.  The A40 at Eynsham therefore needs to provide a safe and inviting environment for pedestrians and cyclists alongside and across the A40, whilst also ensuring a rapid route for public transport and retaining the function of a major A road.  To help to achieve this the speed limit for vehicles through Eynsham will be brought down to 40mph from the current 60mph limit.

Environment

How we are considering the environmental impact

The project is undertaking a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

One of the main aims of the EIA process is to understand current environmental conditions (the 'baseline') and how those conditions may change in the future as a result of a proposed development.

The assessment will consider the environmental impacts on:

  • biodiversity
  • noise
  • air quality,
  • climate change.

The relationship between design and the EIA process is iterative. The evolving design considers and responds to environmental sensitivities to minimise impacts whilst provide suitable mitigation where we cannot avoid the effects of the scheme. The EIA will be submitted as part of the planning applications for the project.

Protected habitats

The consultant team has been undertaking detailed ecology surveys throughout 2020 and earlier in 2021. The findings of these will be submitted as part of the planning application alongside detailed plans on how we propose to mitigate any effects the scheme may have. 

In addition, the project will deliver Biodiversity Net Gain, which is an approach to development that seeks to leave nature in a better state than before the works. The scheme has a target of 10% Biodiversity Net Gain in line with national planning policy.

Heritage conservation areas 

There are two conservation areas within the wider surroundings of the selected route. There is no impact on these from the scheme due to distance from the route and other nearby developments. 

Heritage assets

There are various heritage assets within and in the vicinity of the proposed route, and we will assess the impact on those assets. The assessment will form part of the planning application submission.

Flood risk

We will use flood modelling to determine any impacts of the scheme on surface water. We'll submit a flood risk assessment as part of the scheme's planning application.

Air pollution

We will monitor air quality to inform the planning application and for post-assessment of the scheme once constructed. Air quality will be reviewed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment and submitted with the scheme's planning application. 

Noise pollution

We will do noise baseline surveys to inform the noise assessment. We will include noise pollution in the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted with the scheme's planning application. 

Light pollution

We will describe lighting effects along with visual impact in the Environmental Impact Assessment. 

Visual impact

We'll review visual impact as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted with the scheme's planning application.

Visual impact on neighbouring properties

To understand the visual impact, representative viewpoints will be selected, and we'll take photographs from these viewpoints. We'll use the photos to generate visualisations so we can understand the landscape and visual impacts. 

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will include an assessment of the landscape and visual impacts. We'll submit the EIA with the scheme's planning application.

Planning

Planning permission

The projects delivered as part of the programme will require planning permission. We're scheduled to make planning applications to the local planning authority this autumn.

Planning application

We have now submitted a single planning application for the three schemes making up the A40 Smart Corridor. The A40 Access to Witney project will have its own planning application. 

The Eynsham Park and Ride and A40 Oxford North schemes already have planning permission.

Engagement with residents

We were unable to meet face to face due to government guidelines and restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. However, we were able to engage with local people in several ways. 

  • A new interactive website
  • Engagement with District and Parish Councils
  • Public engagement carried out between 10 May and 30 May 2021
  • Various stakeholder group meetings
  • An email, phone line and feedback form

Next steps in the planning process

Following the close of the engagement period, we have reviewed the feedback to decide if it is appropriate and/or feasible to incorporate refinements from comments received. All feedback from the virtual engagement activity and targeted stakeholder engagement is analysed, summarised, and discussed within a Statement of Community Engagement (SCE). It is then submitted as part of the planning applications for the A40 Smart Corridor and Access to Witney. 

Following validation of our applications, we will formally notify residents and stakeholders. A statutory period of consultation will run for 30 days. Comments on the submitted application material can be provided to us and considered by the local planning authority as part of its decision-making process. 

When the applications will be decided

Subject to satisfactory resolution of all planning issues, we expect a decision in Spring 2022 for the A40 smart corridor.

Private land

Various parcels of private land will be required to construct the scheme. We have statutory powers to purchase land to improve its transport infrastructure compulsorily, but the preferred approach is to:

  • discuss the land requirements with affected landowners
  • agree on measures to minimise impacts of the scheme
  • secure any land transfer through negotiation.

Discussions are already ongoing with the majority of landowners affected by the various projects within the A40 Programme.

Traffic and public transport

Sustainable travel

The scheme will deliver significant improvements for buses and cyclists. Our aim is that in the future, travel demands are made by more sustainable travel alternatives. The proposals will deliver capacity increases, primarily to enhance journey time reliability, minimise adverse environmental effects, and offer the best balance for Oxfordshire.

Traffic

A survey before the pandemic showing the origins and destination of A40 trips highlighted that a significant proportion of trips are to and from Oxford. It also reveals the importance of delivering alternatives to the eastern part of Oxford. This is why the A40 scheme includes measures to support bus services to the hospitals and lay the way for other complementary measures in the future. 

Speed limits

Plans detailing the proposed speed limits are available within the public engagement materials.
 

Proposed speed limits for the A40 scheme
From To Speed limit
Hill Farm the approach to Barnard Gate junction National speed limit (70 mph)
West of Barnard Gate junction the proposed Salt Cross Garden Village access roundabout 50 mph
The proposed Salt Cross Garden Village access roundabout through the village of Eynsham a point east of Lower Road Roundabout 40 mph
Cuckoo Lane junction with the A40 a short section of Cuckoo Lane 40 mph
The east follower road roundabout through Cassington Duke's Cut area 50 mph
Through Dukes Cut area  the west of the A34 Viaduct  40 mph
From A34 Viaduct  Wolvercote Roundabout (Oxford North) 30 mph
Why speed limits have been chosen
Speed limit (mph) Reason for use
20 Primarily residential areas where pedestrian and cycle movements are high (often requiring self-enforcing traffic management)
30 Built-up areas (B/C class or unclassified). Roads with development on both sides of the road (usually for more than 600m and usually with street lighting).
40 (Sub)urban roads with primarily local A/B class roads with little development and limited or direct property access, and cycling usually segregated or off the carriageway.
50 Single or dual carriageway, radial routes or bypasses, typically in built-up areas but with little or no roadside development (< 600m), cycling off the carriageway
60 Most high quality strategic or major (A/B class) roads.

The Department for Transport Circular Setting Local Speed Limits (1/13) builds on extensive consultation with Police and County Councils and forms the basis for the current designs.

Speed limits will need to be appropriate to the design of the road to ensure that self-compliance by drivers is assured. Proposals will be subject to the statutory process including consultation with the police and the local community before a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is made. The designs therefore must advance based on speed limits that are likely to be supported by all parties otherwise there is the risk of pressing for a speed limit that the police refuse to enforce which will be the worst outcome for all.

New junctions

The A40 corridor includes existing junctions and numerous direct access points. Direct accesses will be closed as far as reasonably practical. The additional junctions will add small delays to traffic, but these are offset by improvements in safety and journey time reliability.

Traffic diversions along quiet roads and villages

Extensive studies and models have:

  • examined existing travel patterns
  • tested different improvement options
  • examined how travellers are likely to respond in the future. 

Existing patterns

There appears to be a mix of reasons why travellers use different modes and routes. Some of these patterns reflect personal preferences, some support linked trips to schools, shops or commuting.

When temporary delays occur due to road works, breakdowns or accidents, some traffic diverts to local roads and sometimes rural lanes. The proposals will deliver safety improvements and additional highway capacity that travellers could use flexibly during unforeseen events. The proposals will address many of the reasons travellers divert to less appropriate routes.

Rail line and light rail

Our current Local Transport Plan (LTP) includes the agreed policy on the A40 (paragraph 13) and the proposals for the corridor strategy (paragraph 20). 

The 2015 LTP Rail Strategy, under the Witney-Oxford Rail Link heading, states:

"..Whilst the aspiration of reinstating a rail line remains, the Council is not taking it forward at this time…The county council will retain the option of a rail line to Witney as a longer-term aspiration in its A40 Strategy and will pursue opportunities to realise the aspiration with Network Rail and train operators in the future."

This situation has not changed; we have an agreed and funded approach to the A40 corridor improvements, which will support the impending housing and employment growth.  

We may consider a new rail line in the future. However, rail industry resources and finances remain focused on resolving the capacity constraints on the existing rail network.

A rail line is not part of the current A40 programme, and neither can the proposals safeguard any route. Safeguarding or protecting a route or part of it would need to be based on a robust technical evidence base. No formal feasibility/optioneering has taken place. We are aware that the Witney to Oxford Transport Group is promoting a rail scheme and are working with them where practicable to assist in securing monies to undertake a feasibility study.

A rail station at Eynsham park and ride site

There may, in theory, be space to accommodate a rail station at the Eynsham park and ride site. But the design team can not accurately plan for its inclusion, especially given the absence of any defined or agreed rail corridor on either side.

The park and ride has planning permission, and the A40 programme is being delivered to a challenging timescale. Re-work at this stage to try and include this (unfunded) proposition would add risk to the A40 improvements and risk losing the current earmarked investment. Any reconfiguration of the park and ride would have to form part of the rail corridor proposals and funding package.

Construction

The A40 Oxford North scheme is already under construction, due to be complete in early 2022.

The majority of the main construction works are scheduled to start in late 2022 and will be completed by late 2024.  

We will provide further regular updates in advance of and during any construction activities commencing on site.

Minimising construction impacts

An Environmental Statement (ES) will support the planning application. The ES will examine the effects of construction activities to understand likely effects and identify the mitigation needs. For now, this means the assessment of:

  • earthworks
  • material
  • waste and recycling.

We'll develop a Construction and Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) as part of the planning process. The planning authority and contractor will use the plan to monitor and manage activities through construction.

Congestion due to construction

As with any large construction scheme that involves changes to an existing highway, there is always a certain amount of disruption. We will seek to minimise this disruption as much as possible. We will also aim to keep all affected highways open, using temporary signals and other measures where necessary.

We will aim to minimise disruption through a combination of evening and weekend working, plus the use of off-site construction to reduce on-site construction time. More detailed plans will be available before the start of construction.

Nighttime construction

There will need to be some construction done overnight where the A40 must be closed for safety reasons. We are working with the contractor to plan how they will do the works, but it is too early to define it accurately.  

We will advertise night works well in advance on the A40 webpage. You can sign up for email updates.

Supporting the local economy

The contractor employed to deliver the works must engage with local small to medium enterprises as part of their supply chain. A market engagement event is planned for later in 2021.

Direct creation of apprenticeships and local employment opportunities is also a core part of how the contractor has been selected to deliver the work. These will have targets that are regularly monitored.