COMMUTERS are bracing themselves for almost two months of road chaos when a section of the A420 is closed from tomorrow.
Drivers travelling from Swindon to Oxford will be met with diversions and heavy delays while Oxfordshire Council close the busy route to carry out resurfacing work.
For seven weeks, the road will be shut from the Bourton turn-off up to the Watchfield roundabout. The closure is likely to result in many vehicles passing through nearby villages such as Shrivenham.
Up to 20,000 vehicles a day use the section of road, and local people, while accepting the work needs to be done, are asking drivers to try and find alternative routes if possible.
Sarah Day, chairwoman of Shrivenham parish council, said: “We know that whatever diversions are put in place we are going to see a lot of traffic coming through.
“What we would ask, is people please try and avoid passing through Shrivenham if they can avoid it. Fortunately we have two routes going either way, one along Faringdon Road and the other along Longcot Road.
“That should help a bit because parts of Longcot are so narrow it just wouldn’t be possible to have traffic going both ways and keep it flowing.
“The work has to be done but we want the impact on the people who live here to be as little as possible.”
Larger trucks, weighing more than 7.5 tonnes, will not be allowed to travel through the village and will have to take a much longer route, but Sarah is concerned how that will be enforced.
She said: “We are told it will be marshalled and there will be temporary traffic lights, but these will be at the Bourton junction, so any large truck which comes along the A420 will have to perform a turn in the road.
“If there is already traffic queuing then this will create all sorts of problems.”
Over the past couple of years various sections of the road have been closed for a temporary fix, but it is hoped this will provide a long term solution.
While buses from Swindon are not likely to be affected, local businesses are expecting the closure to hit trade, although they believe finally fixing the road will have long-term benefits.
Paul Booth, who is the franchisee of the Mcdonald’s restaurant near the Watchfield Roundabout, said: “Undoubtedly we are going to be impacted by the road closure, but at this stage it is hard to tell by how much.
“Hopefully though, this will be a case of short term pain for a long term gain.
“The council has been putting in quick fixes for a while. They wouldn’t be shutting the road if there wasn’t a good reason.”
A number of diversion routes have been put in place to minimise hold-ups.
A spokesman for Oxfordshire Council said: “Although the work will result in disruption, it is essential and should mean that no major road reconstruction will be required on this stretch of road for many years.
“All road users will be affected and severe delays are to be expected. Drivers should check travel plans and where possible consider alternative routes.”
Traffic to be diverted through Shrivenham
All HGVs over 7.5 tons will be prohibited from using the A420 and will be re-routed via the A34/M4.
All other traffic will be diverted through Shrivenham High Street which will have a 20mph speed restriction temporarily imposed from Townsend Road.
Oxford bound traffic will be directed onto Faringdon Road through the pinch point which will not be removed. A 30mph speed restriction will be temporarily imposed for the full length of Faringdon Road.
Swindon bound traffic will be diverted via Majors Road and Longcot Road and a 40mph speed restriction temporarily imposed. In addition there will be temporary 20mph speed restrictions through Bourton and Ashbury.
Contractors will be responsible for marshalling the traffic at both ends of the bypass and ensuring HGVs are turned back.
A number of signs will be located on both the A34 and M4 to encourage HGVs not to use the A420.
Shops and businesses are to encourage deliveries to be outside peak hours if possible. lThe double yellow lines in Shrivenham High Street will be re-painted and traffic cones placed to ensure no parking from IV Florist to the Highworth Road