Rationale for Access to Headington scheme

The following statement was sent today by one of the County Council transport planners in response to queries about the validity of the Access to Headington improvements. We display it here for the benefit of residents.

I can confirm that prior to government funding being awarded the project was subject to a full Department for Transport business case. This confirmed that the proposals would deliver significant benefits linked to reduced vehicle delay and an uptake in cycling as a result of junction improvements and new and improved cycle lanes and priority at junctions. This was reported in a paper that went to a Cabinet Member Decisions meeting in June 2016, when the scheme was also approved by the county council following an extensive period of consultation. The paper can be viewed via the following webpageI can confirm that prior to government funding being awarded the project was subject to a full Department for Transport business case. This confirmed that the proposals would deliver significant benefits linked to reduced vehicle delay and an uptake in cycling as a result of junction improvements and new and improved cycle lanes and priority at junctions. This was reported in a paper that went to a Cabinet Member Decisions meeting in June 2016, when the scheme was also approved by the county council following an extensive period of consultation. The paper can be viewed via the following webpage

The same paper also confirmed that alternative roundabout designs were considered early in the design process for the Marston Road/Headley Way/Marsh Lane junctions. However, detailed modelling confirms that these designs would still cause large queues and delay, whereas junction modelling of the proposed signalised arrangement estimates that total vehicle delay and queuing will be significantly reduced. As a result, more of the junction’s capacity can be given over to prioritising buses through selective vehicle detection, cycle safety can be improved with the introduction of cycle pre-signals, and additional controlled crossings for pedestrians and cyclists can be installed, without having a negative impact on general traffic. 

In terms of the bus-link at Northway then this was planned for local bus services only given the roads in Northway are narrow and the route to the JR Hospital less direct than the B4495, which also serves more destinations. Furthermore, the Access to Headington aligns with the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS), which proposes a series of projects that look to address citywide connectivity on Oxford’s orbital and radial routes, with proposed improvements on the B4495 delivering the first phase of infrastructure needed to achieve rapid transit and cycle networks as set out in the OTS. There have no changes to the OTS since Access to Headington was planned, design and consulted on which would require the scheme to be re-considered.  

 

Access to Headington – latest news from County Council

The County Council is still waiting for additional funding to be approved.

In the meantime they are still looking to get preparatory works completed to reduce the level of disruption when works start in earnest. With that in mind they want to continue some off-peak working on the islands outside the JR access on Headley Way.

They are aiming to turn their attention to the roundabout this time. Key points to note:

  • Working off-peak weekdays (Mon 12 Feb – Fri 16 Feb9:30 – 3:30.
  • This will take advantage of the reduced demand due to half term and mean they get the most difficult pieces done when fewer people are travelling.
  • Temporary lights will be on during the posted times
  • A temporary roundabout will be reinstated after works are completed.

The Slade

Significantly less work has been going on over the last few days. Overnight temperatures need to be higher in order that materials can properly cure and allow the line markings and anti-skid to last as long as possible.

Access to Headington latest

The Growth Board met yesterday in closed session. Although the Access to Headington project was not referred to on the agenda, it was discussed under an item with a different portfolio name.

We understand that individual projects are not likely to be announced till the 7th February. So the planned and published Staunton Road closure may still go ahead.

 

Latest information on Access to Headington phases in Headley Way and Windmill Road

We have gathered the following information  from discussions today with the County Cabinet Member and the project lead for A2H.

We understand that:

  • there is a shortfall regarding predicted cost of these phases and the cost quoted by Skanska
  • this means that the local Growth Board is being asked for more money at its next closed meeting on 1st February
  • it is possible that some of the elements of the Access to Headington scheme may have to be de-scoped (this means that they won’t be funded from the existing pot and will be dependent on funding from elsewhere if they happen at all).
  • at present, the Osler Road pedestrian crossing point has already been de-scoped but Skanska has been asked for a separate quote for this which is expected in March. We have asked for this to be included back in scope because we think it would be a major improvement for pedestrians, and had been hoping that it could be funded from money left over from the abandonment of other works near the ring road)
  • it appears that the 20 MPH limit for Windmill Road is separately funded so should go ahead, even if the alterations to Windmill Road are pared back or de-scoped
  • the County Council does not have to hold a statutory public consultation should any changes to the Access to Headington works be deemed necessary but the officer’s view is that there is a moral obligation for the County Council to consult residents once the options are agreed.
  • we asked for the A2H website to be updated, and this has now been done

 

We have informed the County Council that the condition of the JR roundabout is deteriorating and have asked this to be safety checked.

There is no correlation between any national media stories about Skanska and the quote for these works.

Press release re A2H delay

We have been sent the following press release from the County Council.

The start of the next phase of the Access to Headington transport improvement project has been postponed.

Work had been due to start on Headley Way on 22 January along the length of Headley Way including the junction works outside the John Radcliffe hospital and on the Marsh Lane junction.

However concerns over costs, utility diversions and technical issues relating to the hill section between Marsh Lane and the hospital, mean that the construction team have decided to put the start on hold. This means that the team are now looking at other sources of funding along with ways to reduce costs so that the improvement work goes ahead.

However the need for more certainty over costs, utility diversions and technical issues relating to the hill section between Marsh Lane and the hospital, mean that the construction team have decided to put the start on hold. This has also provided an opportunity to seek additional sources of funding to include improvements that had previously been unaffordable along with ways to reduce costs so that the improvement work goes ahead.

It is hoped that a new date for the work to start can be decided in the coming weeks.

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment and Economy, said: “We are still committed to delivering the scheme and some facilitating work will continue at weekends so that we are ready

“This is a challenging and much needed piece of work and it makes sense to look again at the costs and designs to ensure that it can be delivered on budget. We had hoped to resolve this without needing to pause the scheme but require more time to reach a conclusion.”

Work on The Slade is programmed to finish in February providing a new off-carriageway facility for cyclists as well as improved crossings. Once complete known issues such as parking obstructing the path will see enforcement action taking place.

The new junction on Gypsy Lane, completed early 2017, is working well and we will continue monitoring of that over the duration of the Access to Headington programme. The latest work undertaken on Old Road/Churchill Drive and Churchill Drive/Roosevelt Drive is now complete and working well providing improved access for the Churchill Hospital site.

Latest Access to Headington update

Here is the latest from County about the Access to Headington scheme.

The Slade

We have now completed the work between the mini roundabout at Hollow Way and Wood Farm Road and we are looking to complete the current phase of work between Wood Farm Road and Slade Close before Christmas.

We will start the last phase after Christmas between Slade Close and Old Road – this will take approximately four weeks to complete.

Traffic management will remain in place over the Christmas period, though we will remove as much as we can. Daily safety checks will be carried out

 

Churchill Drive/Roosevelt Drive 

We are working in the final phase of this set of works and are on schedule to complete the main construction work before Christmas. There may be some minor work to do after Christmas but this will be minor and will cause little disruption.

The majority of the traffic management will be removed over the Christmas period however Churchill Drive will remain as access only and traffic leaving the Churchill site will continue to be diverted via Roosevelt Drive. The permanent traffic lights on Old Road have been switched on this week.

 

Headley Way

The team will start setting up begin on Tuesday 16th January, but this should not be disruptive to traffic. Construction work will start on Tuesday 23rd January. Information on programme of work will follow early January.

We are going to be holding a public exhibition on Thursday 14th December at the Heading Prep School between 2:30pm and 6:30pm. This is an opportunity to speak to members of the project team from the County Council, Skanska and the Designers. All aspects of the project remain the same as per the last public exhibition held in the Summer and all drawings can be found on the Oxfordshire County Council website.

 

Christmas Shut Down

All work will cease on Friday 22nd December for the Christmas period. Work will begin again on Tuesday 2nd January. Traffic management will remain in place during the closure for safety reasons. Regular safety checks will be made.

Temporary overnight closures of Old Road

Here is the latest from the County Council

TRAFFIC REGULATION NOTICE

ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT, 1984

Notice is hereby given pursuant to Section 14(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, that the Oxfordshire County Council 

TEMPORARILY PROHIBITS THE USE OF THE HIGHWAY BY ALL MOTOR VEHICLES         

 LOCATION:          Oxford, Headington, Old Road        

 REASON:             To facilitate carriageway improvement works  

DURATION:          Night works starting on 30 October 2017 (8pm – 5am)

The anticipated completion date is 3 November 2017

(Traffic Regulation Notices cover a maximum of 5 consecutive days.)

PLEASE NOTE Although the closures are scheduled for 5 nights, the work is probably going to take less time than this – extreme weather conditions have been factored in.                                                                               

ACCESS:             Limited access will be maintained for emergency service vehicles and for frontages within the closed section of road, subject to the progress of the works

 SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE ROUTE: Roosevelt Drive – Gipsy Lane – A420 – Windmill Road – Old Road & vice-versa.

A map of the works area (part of the Access to Headington scheme) may be viewed below.

Access to Headington: conflict of use of space at bus stops

Bus stops and crossings in new highways works are always tricky in terms of off-carriageway infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists as they are inherently points where desire line cross.

We asked the County Council about the possible conflict between bus passengers alighting and passing cyclists near the bus stops in the Slade. Here is the response we received:

The areas outside the bus stops and crossings are shared space rather than cycle lane/pedestrian lane so both users share priority.  The appropriate signage and markings will be in place in order to remind users of the change in priority.