"Between 2018 and 2020, West Midlands councils will have benefitted from 57.3 million worth of funding to enhance their roads"
Traffic roadwork projects may be very disruptive for commuters and drivers in the short-term, but they are essentially undertaken to help the road structure and traffic flow. Wherever you drive in the UK, you’re likely to come across a stretch of road or a roundabout which is having work carried out. The government’s Road Investment Strategy is to have delivered £15 billion worth of investment in England’s motorways and major A roads, with £11 billion said to have been committed between 2015 and 2020 to provide extra capacity via a spine of smart motorways and upgrades.
In this article, with the help of Lookers (Vauxhall Adam retailers), we look at some of the biggest roadwork projects affecting the Midlands.
M6 to Smart Motorway between junction 2 - the M69 interchange
This major scheme is already underway. With an end cost predicted to be up to £234 million, the route has already seen over 3.7 kilometres of drainage replaced, along with around 1.2 kilometres of environmental barriers being installed by January 2019.
This scheme was granted in a bid to help reduce the delay times by increasing traffic capacity. It involved creating a permanent fourth lane where the hard shoulder was, converting the climbing lane into a permanent traffic lane which will be situated eastbound between junction 3a and 3. New electronic information signs and CCTV camera swill also be installed, as will nine emergency refuge areas and noise barriers in built-up areas.
Start date: 2017
End date: 2020*
M42 junction 6
This is set to be a huge project that will cost in the region of £350-£500 million. It’s been outlined as a comprehensive upgrade of the M42 junction 6 which is situated near to Birmingham Airport. The plan was put in place in a bid to allow traffic to flow better on and off the A45, to support the access to the airport and prepare capacity for the new High Speed Two (HS2) station.
The work was first announced in August 2017, but changes, including an additional footbridge across the A45 to allow access from Church Lane in Bickenhill, has meant that the project has required some adjustments. It was identified as a necessity in 2014’s Road Investment Strategy and has been designed to accommodate planned developments elsewhere in the area. Currently, the junction suffers from high congestion levels and journey reliability issues, so the increased capacity of the junction should support such economic growth.
It’s expected that the PINS recommendation report will be released by the end of this year, allowing construction to begin next year.
Start date: 2020
End date: 2023/24*
While the long-running roadworks on the M5 were anticipated to be completed in spring, the end date has been pushed back to later this year. The repair work that has been carried out on the Oldbury viaduct on the route has been one of UK motorway’s biggest ever projects. The work has seen cars limited to 30mph with traffic running in two lanes on one side. Costing £100 million, there have been over 6,00 repairs necessary with more than 400 miles of scaffolding being used.
Start date: 2017
End date: Autumn 2019*
M50 overbridges repair work
Three bridges between junction 1 and junction 2 on the M50 will be repaired this year. The work began with overnight closures before a weekend closure in February. The repair work is set to cost £14.9 million and it’s been suggested that anyone travelling to or from Wales uses the Severn road bridge, which now can be used toll-free.
Due to the nature and extent of the some of the repairs that are needed, the Queens Arms Bridge will be closed fully from late April, but the other bridges will remain open with a single lane and traffic lights in place.
Start date: February 2019
End date: December 2019*
Between 2018 and 2020, West Midlands councils will have benefitted from £57.3 million worth of funding to enhance their roads. This will help to reduce congestion levels and encourage housing projects due to the inclusion of bus and cycle routes. They are also receiving £14.1 million from the government’s ‘Challenge Fund’ to improve the area’s road maintenance and flood mitigation measures by 2020.
Away from the roads, there’s a huge HS2 high speed rail line in the pipeline that will benefit the whole country by 2033. This £55.7 billion project will be a new north-south railway for the UK.
With many other roadworks in the pipeline to battle congestion, it really will be a case of drivers waiting patiently as their roads become more user friendly.
*end date could change