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By Haddenham Webteam - 30th November 2018 11:30am
Following Highways England's announcement of the Oxford — Cambridge Expressway preferred corridor in September 2018, Bucks County Council has published an overview of the scheme to summarise its status as at November 2018.
What is the Oxford — Cambridge Expressway?
The Expressway is a proposed strategic road between Oxford and Cambridge (via Milton Keynes). The scheme is managed by Highways England.
What do we currently know?
In September 2018 it was announced that corridor B had been selected as the preferred corridor for the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. This was the central of the three proposed corridors. Two sub corridors within the preferred corridor are being taken forward to develop viable route options (corridors B1 and B3). There is currently no route.
The preferred corridor runs through Aylesbury Vale — see the map showing the preferred corridor. (Click on the image to view an enlarged version).
Where can you find information?
As a way of providing the public with information Highways England has developed a webpage for the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway:
The webpage is being updated by Highways England as the Expressway project continues. The following is drawn from the Highways England website:
Why we need this scheme
Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge are growing fast in a region renowned for innovation where there are plans for a substantial increase in jobs and housing. Yet, the east-west transport connections between these areas are notoriously poor with no single route to travel the 80 miles. It is easier to travel into London from the three cities than go from one to the other with the shortest road route currently at least 108 miles. This creates a huge barrier and risk to future growth, while a housing shortfall is stifling further investment and is a major concern for the region.
The benefits of a new high quality link
A new high quality link road would complement East-West Rail and provide better opportunities for the region as a place to live and work. This will support growth nationally as well as locally, providing better access to some of the world's most important business and research institutions.
The high quality link road would create more job opportunities for those living locally while stimulating housing growth and reducing costs for businesses. It would also unlock new areas of growth in areas including Aylesbury Vale, Milton Keynes, Bedford, St Neots, Cambourne and Bourne Airfield as well as around the A428.
The case for a new high quality link
The most direct route linking Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge from the M4 to the M11 is of variable standard and quality which affects journey times, reliability and safety. Traffic flows are forecast to increase by 32 to 40% by 2035 and in the absence of transport improvements, congestion along the corridor is expected to become worse.
The National Infrastructure Commission report 'Partnering for Prosperity' in November 2017 said that the annual output along the Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford corridor could be £163 billion higher than in 2014 (twice the rate of growth than otherwise predicted). An additional 384,000 people are predicted to be brought within a 45-minute drive of Milton Keynes and 470,000 more within the Oxford Science Park, meaning greater job opportunities and business growth.
Once complete, the new road is expected to take up to 40 minutes off journeys between the M4 and the M1, bringing Oxford and Cambridge both cities to within a 45-minute drive of Milton Keynes.
What are the timescales for the project?
Highways England's indicative timescale for the Expressway are shown below:
September 2018 — Corridor decision
Autumn 2019 — Route options for public consultation
Autumn 2020 — Preferred route announcement
2020 — 2025 — Consultation and preparation of orders, Development Consent Order application, Examination by Planning Inspectorate and decision.
2025 — Start of construction
2030 — Indicative date for road opening
Frequently Asked Questions
Where will the Expressway go?
Currently Highways England have announced a preferred corridor only, no route has been announced. Corridor B (the central of three potential corridors) was announced as the preferred corridor in September 2018.
Which residents be directly affected?
Currently, there has only been a preferred corridor decision for the Expressway, potential route options will not be known until Autumn 2019 with a final announcement on route the following year Autumn 2020. Therefore, it is currently unknown exactly where the Expressway will run and direct impacts on individual constituents at this time.
When will the road be open?
Highways England's current indicative timeline suggests that construction of the road will be from 2025 onwards, with a proposed opening date of 2030. Highways England will still need to pass project milestones in the development of the Expressway to progress the scheme.
What is an "Expressway"?
The current definition of an Expressway is:
"An A-road that is as well-designed as a motorway and is able to offer the same standard of journey to users. At a minimum, Expressways will be largely or entirely dual carriageway standard roads that are safe, well-built and resilient to delays, have junctions that are largely or entirely grade separated, include modern safety measures and construction standards and technology to manage traffic and provide better information to drivers"
The Department for Transport is continuing to consider how and where the concept of an Expressway can be applied.
When can I have my say?
The first point of public consultation is Autumn 2019. This will be consultation on the route options.
Highways England is undertaking engagement with Parish Councils prior to this and is keen to understand and gain local knowledge of constraints and opportunities to feed into the development of route options. A meeting for Parishes (within in the Expressway corridor) was held in November. There will potentially be future sessions in December for those outside of the corridor but with an interest in the Expressway (these are being considered/ organised by Highways England, however Buckinghamshire County Council has expressed that engagement with Parishes outside the corridor would be beneficial).
What is BCC's view and how are we engaging?
Buckinghamshire County Council had previously expressed a preference for the Southern Corridor (corridor A) based on the anticipated housing and economic growth along this corridor and the current lack of connectivity. The preferred corridor announced, therefore, does not match the BCC preferred corridor.
Buckinghamshire County Council is continuing to engage with Highways England and will move forwards and continue to work alongside colleagues and partners to ensure the best outcome for the people and businesses within Buckinghamshire.