Highways England 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.
The Project Control Framework (PCF) Stage 0 study was undertaken by WSP and concluded with a short list of corridor options that addressed the study objectives and set out the strategic outline business case for the better performing options.
The Stage 0 study proposes that the existing dual carriageways of the A34 from the M4 to Oxford and the A421 and A428 from the M1 to M11 are utilised for the Expressway, including the proposed improvements to the A428 between Black Cat Roundabout and Caxton Gibbet. For the remaining length of the scheme three shortlisted Expressway Corridor Route Options from Oxford to Milton Keynes were identified (including three sub-options around Oxford) as follows;
- Corridor Option A – Southern Route (via Aylesbury);
- Corridor Option B – Central Route (via a shared East-West Rail Corridor); and
- Corridor Option C -Northern Route (via Buckingham).
Jacobs were appointed by Highways England to undertake Stage 1A and Stage 1B to study all the corridors in further detail to identify which corridor would be the most appropriate. Corridor B was identified as the best performing option. This corridor will deliver better benefits for the region as it out-performs Corridor A and C in supporting strategic transformational growth, regeneration and redevelopment.
Two corridors within Option B have been taken forward for viable route options (see description below) for public consultation in Autumn 2019:
- Corridor B1 – 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 – 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.
Gattica Associates have provided Jacobs with guidance on costs and programme impacts on high risk utility apparatus that may be affected by the corridor options.