Monday 1 February 2021
• Black Country roundabout given £24million Government funding for congestion-reducing revamp • Local MPs welcome investment • One of seven schemes submitted by Midlands Connect to the Major Road Network improvements fund • Enhancements include introduction of new lanes, widening of carriageway and improved walking and cycling routes • Work to set to be completed in the next two to three years
The Department for Transport has pledged to invest £24million to reduce congestion on the Birchley Island roundabout in Oldbury; an announcement that has been widely welcomed by local leaders.
Situated between the A4123, A4034 and M5, the intersection currently suffers from congestion and hold-ups, caused by a mixture of local and national traffic from both commuters, residents and businesses. Funding has been sought for improvements for many years, with this most recent bid the joint work of Sandwell Council, Transport for the West Midlands, Midlands Connect, Black Country Chamber and Black Country LEP.
As well as introducing new lanes and widening the existing carriageway, improvements will be made to cycling and walking routes leading to through and from the roundabout. By reducing delays and improving air quality, the investment will act to boost employment, boost trading conditions for businesses and improve conditions for local communities.
The enhancements will cost £30million in total, made up of £24million investment from Government and a £6million local contribution from Sandwell Council, Transport for the West Midlands and Black Country LEP. Work will likely start in the next few weeks, and will be completed in the next two to three years.
The scheme was one of seven submitted to Government by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect, after it was asked by the Department for Transport to prioritise and select the most important improvements needed on the Major Road Network.
Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, said:
“There are a number of reasons why we asked Government to prioritise this scheme – Birchley Island is a strategically-important interchange linking local and national roads, including the M5 motorway. Commuters, locals and businesses alike have struggled with congestion for too long, it’s fantastic that these works can now go ahead, reducing hold-ups and improving the poor air quality caused by idling traffic.
“Working in partnership with the Sandwell Council, Black Country LEP, Black Country Chamber and Transport for the West Midlands has allowed us to make a strong, united case for investment, and overcome the obstacles that had previously slowed progress.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, said:
“Birchley Island has been notorious with Black Country residents for years due to the amount of congestion that builds up, and so I am delighted to have helped secure the funding we need from Government to finally give the roundabout a major overhaul,"
“From widening carriageways to increase capacity, to additional lanes to tackle congestion, these works will make a real difference to every driver who has had to endure the misery of being stuck in and around Birchley Island.”
Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader for Sandwell Council, said:
“These improvements are very much needed, not only for Sandwell residents but for our local and regional businesses who use this junction on a daily basis."
Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, said:
“This is not only fantastic news for commuters in West Bromwich East and the wider Black Country, but it will be a great boost to our manufacturing output too. I’m really pleased this part of the Black Country will benefit from this huge investment in infrastructure.”
John Spellar, MP for Warley, said:
“At last, after a long battle, Birchley Island can become a Gateway to the Black Country rather than an obstacle. It will benefit drivers, business and the environment “
Sophie Zumbe, External Affairs