What is the Oxford to Cambridge expressway?
The Oxford to Cambridge growth arc, which includes the county areas of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, contains some of the most productive places in the UK. For decades, the region has been a hub of learning, economic growth and innovation. Home to around 3.3 million people, the area is a national asset attracting talent and investment into the UK and powering Britain’s economy.
With the right interventions and investment, the government believes there is a transformational opportunity to amplify the arc’s position as a world-leading economic place. To achieve this, it has designated the arc a key economic priority and is considering ways to maximise growth in the region.
The area around Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge is a fast-growing region. It’s an area renowned for innovation, where there are plans for a substantial increase in jobs and homes.
The east-west transport connections between these areas are poor, particularly the roads, which are often congested causing poor journey times.
The most direct route that links Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge from the M4 to the M11 is a poor standard, affecting journey times, reliability and safety.
Traffic is forecast to increase between 32 and 40 per cent by 2035 and in the absence of transport improvements, congestion is expected to worsen.
The Department for Transport has asked Highways England to explore the case for a fast, high-quality road link to better connect Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
The project will directly improve people’s lives for decades to come by delivering faster, safer and more reliable journeys, and increasing opportunities for economic growth and new homes.
This includes looking at the opportunity to build a new road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes, to fill a 30-mile gap in the local network.
A high-quality road link will complement East West Rail and form part of an integrated strategic transport solution, bringing jobs, skills, housing, business and world leading universities closer together.
To provide an east-west road link between Milton Keynes and Oxford, delivering enhanced connectivity through faster safer and more reliable connections.
To support the creation of an integrated corridor between Oxford and Cambridge enabling plans for infrastructure, homes and businesses.
To unlock economic potential in the corridor by allowing strategic growth through increased productivity, employment and homes.
An improved environment
By providing a healthy, natural environment, reducing congestion, supporting sustainable travel modes and promoting equality and opportunity.
Planning for the future
To reduce the impact of new homes on the local roads and contribute to improved safety.
To apply innovative technology where possible to support the sustainable planning, construction and operation of the new road.
Skills and accessibility
To promote accessibility and wider socio-economic benefits by improving access to job opportunities.
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Traffic is forecast to rise by up to 40% by 2035.
The new link road will lead to faster and more reliable journeys, with:
- journey times reduced by up to 40 minutes
- reduced freight traffic on local roads
- improved safety, air quality and noise
It will provide better access to jobs, services and amenities for local communities, with:
- an extra 384,000 people within a 45-minute drive time of Milton Keynes
- 470,000 people within a 45-minute drive into the Oxford Science Park
- up to 1.1 million extra jobs across the corridor (National Infrastructure Commission estimates)
It will also bring business and world leading universities closer together.
Economic output in the region could be £163 billion higher than in 2014 – equivalent to an economy the size of Scotland.
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