Oxford

Petition opposes closure of 'vital' A417 in Oxfordshire

A417 by Challow bridge Image copyright Google
Image caption Network Rail wants to close the A417 at Challow Bridge for four months

Hundreds of residents have signed a petition opposing plans to close part of a "vital" commuter road in Oxfordshire for four months.

Network Rail plans to close the A417 at the bridge in Challow so it can electrify the Great Western mainline.

The plans prompted Faringdon resident Alex Meredith to start a petition to oppose the plans.

He says the closure will stifle trade in Wantage and Faringdon and prove costly to commuters.

Mr Meredith, who is also a town councillor in Faringdon, said: "That road is a lifeline for this part of rural Oxfordshire.

"The real problem is the cost. This will add to the cost of petrol and childcare by sending people on long diversions, and a lot of people are going to struggle to make ends meet."

'No viable alternative'

Oxfordshire County Council has given its initial agreement to allow Challow Bridge to be closed from September.

Network Rail said it was doing the work because it needed extra height for the overhead wires that will power new electric lines.

Mr Meredith is calling on the council to insist Network Rail installs a second bridge that will eventually replace the original, as it did with the A338.

He said Farringdon and western Vale of White Horse residents would be hit by a double whammy of road closures, as the A420 Shrivenham bypass will also close this summer for surface repairs.

So far more than 300 people have signed his petition.

However, the county council said, unlike the A338 Wantage Road bridge, there was no "viable alternative" to the closure of the bridge because of land restrictions.

A spokesman said: "The county council has a duty to work with organisations like Network Rail when they need to carry out major improvement work. We also work very hard to minimise the impact of things like bridge closures on local communities and the road network in general."

Network Rail said electrification would "bring huge benefits to the region".

It said rail services would continue to run while the work took place.

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