This is an editorial opinion piece which featured in this week's Oxford Times and was written by politics reporter Ed Halford.

When the lockdowns were released and the extraordinary work of Professor Sarah Gilbert at Oxford’s Jenner Institute meant people were no longer stuck at home, many were relieved to return once again to the workplace.

Of course, people hadn’t missed the workload, the manic morning rush or the workplace coffee with its plastic aftertaste.

Many people had just missed the workplace buzz and the social interactions which livened up mundane office work.

READ MORE: Oxford business owners slam council for 'traffic disaster'

However, the beauty of having to work from home was saving money on the commute and rolling out of bed that much later because nobody was ever going to know if a Zoom camera was hiding pyjama bottoms.

On major roads around Oxford, many motorists this week could be forgiven for wishing they could once again stay at home – if work allowed.

The A34 southbound has been diabolical, with hour-long queues this week due to ‘planned’ gas works and the forced closure of one lane.


Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

If this wasn’t bad enough, motorists have also had to cope with southbound closures on the weekend due to essential repairs to the Wolvercote Viaduct.

It comes as rail users are forced to use replacement bus services due to the closure of the line between the city and Didcot.

The issue with roadworks in and around Oxford is that they are an uncoordinated mess.

READ MORE: Motorists fear 'insane' A34 traffic 'mayhem' will continue

It is easy to point the finger at the county council – the highways authority – or National Highways, but the thinking behind these ‘planned’ works going on at the same time must be questioned.

Surely what this past week has revealed is that our utility companies and our political representatives have not been in sync.

Nobody is disputing that gas works should go ahead or that essential repairs to a viaduct are needed, but it is far from ideal when multiple road closures are all going on at the same time.

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Oxford businessman Matthew Alden, who is the managing director of the respected Aldens Butchers, has said he is now re-considering investing in Oxford because of its traffic woes.

Customers regularly tell him that it is taking too long to reach his shop in Osney Mead.

To put Oxford’s traffic delays into perspective, Mr Alden said it was quicker for him to reach his butchers from Portsmouth, 80 miles away, than it was for some customers travelling from Bicester – just 15 miles up the road.

READ MORE: A34 Wolvercote Viaduct roadworks to cause traffic disruption

It has also been revealed that there was an option considered to keep one lane of Botley Road open during the closure.

Unsurprisingly, the failure to do this has not gone down well with business owners.

With a gaggle of Network Rail staff on duty re-directing motorists and pedestrians, Mr Alden has pointed out that surely re-directing one lane of traffic wouldn’t have been too ambitious.

As long as Oxford’s traffic problems continue, Oxford’s businesses and motorists will continue to suffer – and may just give up on the city altogether.

Please note: In response to articles focusing on this week's roadworks, a county council spokesman said: 

“If local businesses wish to complain about the timing clash they should direct those complaints to the government departments who have made the decisions on timings.

“The council is the wrong organisation to be seeking to hold to account for this.

"The council expressed concerns to National Highways about the timing of the A34 closures in light of the work on the Botley Road and the Nuneham viaduct situation, but we have no authority to alter the timings.

“However, it has been agreed that after this weekend, SGN’s work on the A34 involving a southbound lane closure will be rescheduled for October, once the Botley Road reopens.”

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About the author 

To sign up to Ed's weekly Politics newsletter, click here:

Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

Ed’s weekly politics newsletter is released every Saturday morning.