The government has reconfirmed its commitment to invest in transport projects in Oxfordshire.
Millions of pounds will be spent upgrading roads to form the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, improving the A34, and extending the east-west rail line.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling reconfirmed the government’s pledge last week as part of its new transport investment strategy.
Other local roads are also set to receive more investment after Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) was given a share from a national roads fund.
Details of the exact proportion of money to be allocated and the type of roads eligible for funding are yet to be confirmed.
Bev Hindle, strategic director for communities at the county council, welcomed the government’s reconfirmation. He said: “We [OCC] will continue to talk to government and partners about the county’s transport infrastructure strategy to ensure the needs of future generations who live, work or travel through Oxfordshire can be met and planned for.
“Getting transport spending right is absolutely crucial. We already know that existing funding will not deliver the scale of infrastructure investment required which is why we will work together to explore alternative sources of funding.”
The county council is working with eight other local authorities – Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – to improve east-west connectivity.
A government study last August warned that failing to build the expressway, also known as the ‘brain belt’, could choke the UK’s economic growth.
Impartial infrastructure advisors, the National Infrastructure Commission, said in November 2016 that the government should seize a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to build the new transport links between Oxford and Cambridge.
The following month the Department for Transport estimated that the new road could cost up to £3.5billion.
Leader of OCC Cllr Ian Hudspeth told The Oxford Paper in November: “We (OCC) have long argued that East West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway can be a catalyst to bring the region together to deliver the housing that is required in the region as well as the connectivity it will need to compete with the best in the world.”