A £102m plan to turn the A40 into a dual carriageway between Witney and Eynsham can now be designed in detail after the cash was released – but some have warned the money could be better spent.

The government announced yesterday it has awarded the funding to Oxfordshire County Council.

The authority submitted a bid in March for £102m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to help extend the A40 dual carriageway from Witney to a proposed new Eynsham park and ride.

Yesterday, the Treasury announced the bid was successful.

Read also: Cyclist dies after crash near Botley

The county council also hopes the cash will help pay to improve cycling facilities on the route and extend the A40 westbound bus lane from west of the Duke’s Cut canal and railway bridges, near Wolvercote, to the park and ride.

The Government says the improvements will 'unlock' (allow the building of) 5,050 new homes nearby.

Witney Gazette:

Ian Hudspeth.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “This is the announcement stage that the funding is there, which means we can now design the case for the road, and make sure we go through the full design process.

“Then we will be going for planning permission. We should be delivering this within five years.

“It is a tight turnaround – part of the housing infrastructure funding is that it has to be delivered in a certain period.”

Also read: Oxford hospital report on patient deaths 'likely caused by care'

Up to 32,000 vehicles use the congested route every day, which has been described by business leaders and Witney MP Robert Courts as one of the biggest barriers to economic growth in the district.

Mr Hudspeth added that the A40 upgrade would allow the building of new homes in the district and also mean a greater volume of traffic could fit on the road, with the aim of reducing long tailbacks.

He added: "The upgrade plan has also got good cycling facilities so it can encourage the modal shift towards cycling and it will improve the reliability of the buses so they will be able to have a more fixed journey time."

James Mills, the leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “This investment will help ease the daily misery commuters have to endure on the A40 and bring major benefits to the district’s economy as it will attract even more businesses to the area.

“People have been waiting for many years for these improvements and I am sure they will deliver a tangible outcome quickly.”

Witney Gazette:

Traffic queues are a common problem for drivers on the A40.

But Lib Dem West Oxfordshire district councillor for Eynsham and Cassington Dan Levy said the plans would not do enough to stop traffic jams in the area.

Mr Levy said: “I think £102m could be spent better doing other things, including improving cycling facilities.

“I would prefer to see a rail link between Oxford and Witney and this is what most people would prefer in West Oxfordshire.”

Also read: A34 closure postponed until next weekend due to weather warning

He added: “The cycling provision just replaces what is already there. It might be slightly better, but only slightly.

“I don’t think it improves cycling facilities for people trying to get into Oxford from West Oxfordshire.”

The money for the road expansion comes as part of the latest round of funding from the HIF, which is providing a total of £250m to ‘unlock’ more than 20,000 homes across England.

The plan to dual the A40 in West Oxfordshire has been granted the largest amount of money from the latest funding round.

The chancellor of the exchequer, Sajid Javid, said the money would help people currently trying to buy their own home by increasing the number of homes available.

Last November, Oxfordshire County Council revealed it had plans to improve the A40 between Oxford and Witney, at an estimated cost of £180m.

The plans were broken down into separate projects and included the dualling of the road between Eynsham and Witney.

It also included the proposed new park and ride north of the A40, west of Cuckoo Lane, Eynsham.