Birchley Island: Work to overhaul congestion hotspot near M5 still two years off
Long-awaited plans to revamp a notoriously congested roundabout have finally taken a step forward.
But it could still be up to two years before any improvements get under way.
Transport bosses are set to approve a funding bid to launch a scheme aimed at cutting congestion at the busy Birchley Island in Oldbury.
But the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said it could be 2020 before any work starts.
Roads chiefs have called for action at the island for years due to the level of congestion faced by drivers on a daily basis.
The LEP said a project review was currently being carried out and when complete detailed designs for the project would follow.
It said a ‘start on site date’ was ‘anticipated before 2020’. Board members are set to approve £150,000 to allow design work to progress but substantial funding for the project has so far proved to be a stumbling block.
Black Country LEP board member Ninder Johal said it was likely the group would wait for the outcome of a feasibility study and find out how much the scheme would cost before making a decision over whether to back it.
Papers ahead of the next board meeting state: “Birchley Island is a key gateway to the Black Country and Birmingham. The current configuration of island contributes to significant levels of congestion across the wider area.
“It has been a long-term desire of both Sandwell and the Black Country to see this island upgraded to enable it to cope with the growing levels of vehicles on the surrounding roads.
“Over the last three years, Sandwell Council officers have developed a major scheme business case to secure funding.”
The overhaul of Birchley Island at junction two of the M5 has been in the pipeline since 2014. The island handles thousands of vehicles every day and has junctions for the Wolverhampton Road and M5.
The scheme preferred by the council would see changes to lanes and also involve extending Wolverhampton Road on a new roadway through the roundabout to create a two-way ‘hamburger’ island at a cost of around £12.7 million.
The ‘hamburger’ scheme, which would see it be spilt in two to allow traffic to run through the centre of it, was approved by planners last year.
The work would be expected to take two years to complete if it was all approved.