We were asked to explore the case for a fast, high-quality road link to better connect Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. This included filling the missing link, a 30 mile gap in the network between the M1 at Milton Keynes and the M40 at Oxford, including the development of new capacity at Oxford to relieve pressure on the A34.
We have been working with stakeholders and partners on the first phase of the project, using analytical and evidence-based reviews to understand which of the proposed corridors should be taken forward for further development.
Following technical analysis and stakeholder engagement, Corridor B has been identified as the best performing option. This will deliver better benefits for the region as it out-performs Corridor A and C in supporting strategic transformational growth, regeneration and redevelopment.
We have rejected Corridor B2, whilst it offers similar benefits at a similar predicted cost to B3, the environmental impacts around the Horspath and Wheatley areas are substantially more difficult to overcome. There are also a number of significant constraints as the corridor heads north toward Bicester, including Otmoor Nature Reserve.
We will be developing viable route options for Corridor B1 and B3 (see description below) for public consultation next year:
- Corridor B1 â€“ a central corridor broadly aligned with the proposed East-West Rail route from Abingdon to south Milton Keynes via Winslow. This option passes to the west of Oxford
- Corridor B3 â€“ a central corridor broadly aligned with the proposed East-West Rail route from Abingdon to south Milton Keynes via Winslow. This option passes to the south east of Oxford.
You can find out more information about our findings and assessment in our Oxford to Cambridge Overview booklet.
You can see the area for the development of route options in our map.
Now we have established the corridor we will provide everyone with the opportunity to get involved and help shape the final project. In the next stage we will continue to engage a wide group of stakeholders to help us identify all the information we require in order to shortlist viable routes. We will consult widely before making any decisions on the routeâ€™s location. We will then consult again, asking for your feedback on more detailed plans before we submit the planning application to build the scheme.
|Autumn 2017||Commitment by the Chancellor for construction to commence on the missing link before the end of the Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) in 2025|
|Autumn 2019||Public consultation on route options*|
|2020||Preferred route announcement*|
|2030||New link opens to the public|
*Indicative timetable, subject to preferred route options.
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 worldâ€™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 â€˜Partnering for Prosperityâ€™ in November 2017 said that the annual output along the Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford corridor could be Â£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.
Take a look at our at-a-glance summary.
The key objectives for the high quality link are:
- Connectivity: provide an east-west strategic road link between Milton Keynes and Oxford that delivers enhanced connectivity through faster, safer and more reliable connections across the corridor in the broad arc from Oxford to Cambridge via Milton Keynes
- Strategic Transformation: support the creation of an integrated corridor between Oxford and Cambridge, reflecting and advancing plans for infrastructure, housing, business investment and development
- Economic Growth: unlock the economic potential in the corridor by facilitating strategic growth to the benefit of the UK economy through increased productivity, employment and housing, and maximising synergies with potential growth associated with east-west rail
- Skills and Accessibility: promote accessibility and wider socio-economic benefits by improving access to job opportunities at key employment centres, developments, and at education, leisure, health, and retail facilities whilst creating wider employment opportunities
- Planning for the future: reduce the impact of new housing on local roads for communities and contribute to better safety, security and health whilst promoting sustainable transport modes
- Environment: to provide a healthy, natural environment, reducing congestion and supporting sustainable travel modes and promoting equality and opportunity
- Innovation: apply innovative technology wherever possible to support the sustainable planning, construction and operation of transport measures
The scheme in detail
The Oxford to Cambridge expressway project was one of six strategic studies which were commissioned as part of the Governmentâ€™s first Road Investment Strategy (RIS 1) in 2015, for delivery in 2020-25.
The study explores the potential to connect the three cities by developing a fast, high quality route, along a single corridor, including filling a 30-mile gap in the network between the M1 and M40 (â€˜missing strategic linkâ€™).
The Oxford to Cambridge study identified three broad corridors for the â€˜missing linkâ€™. These are outlined in detail in the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway Corridor Assessment Report.
With the help of a number of experts and representatives from local communities, environmental and heritage bodies, and technical specialists, we have now identified the best performing corridors to take forward for detailed route analysis over the 12 months to summer 2019.
Two corridors in the central option B, which is broadly aligned with the proposed East-West Rail route starting at Abingdon and linking Oxford to the south of Milton Keynes via Winslow, will be taken forward:
- Corridor B1 - This option passes to the west of Oxford
- Corridor B3 - This option passes to the east of Oxford
Project media files and documents
Project Objective Assessment Matrix - Appendix B
Growth and Economic Assessment Report - Appendix C
Stakeholder Report - Appendix D
Supplementary Environmental Information - Appendix E
Supplementary Consenting Information - Appendix F
Traffic Modelling and Appraisal - Appendix G
Construction Corridor Assessment - Appendix H
Glossary and Abbreviation - Appendix I
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