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Black Country motorway bypass plan backed by transport bosses

By Pete Madeley | Dudley | Transport | Published:

A controversial new 40-mile motorway that will plough through countryside skirting the Black Country has been backed by transport bosses.

Motorway traffic could be reduced by one fifth if a new route is built, say Midlands Connect

Midlands Connect is considering plans for the ‘Western Strategic Route’, which would connect the M5 Junction 4a at Bromsgrove with Junction 2 of the M54, near the i54 business park.

The transport body’s new report, out today, says the route would offer ‘the biggest benefit’ for improving journey times and supporting economic growth.

It says the route could reduce traffic on stretches of the M6 and M5 by one fifth, and could also connect up to 45,000 homes in proposed garden villages.

But South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson says the route would ‘rip the heart out of the greenbelt’.

The exact path of the motorway has not yet been finalised, although it appears to mirror the Western Orbital scheme and the Wolverhampton Bypass, which were thrown out twice in the 1990s and 2000s over environmental and financial concerns.

Initial plans suggest it is set to pass near Codsall, Codsall Wood, Perton, Pattingham, Wombourne, Dudley, Stourbridge and Kidderminster.

The proposed plan of the Western Strategic Route is shown in red

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The report details 10 recommendations to bust congestion including measures to make the best use of the ‘underused’ M6 Toll, new park and ride sites, and introducing ramp metering on the M5 Junction 1 (West Bromwich) and Junction 2 (Oldbury).

Midlands Connect director Maria Machancoses, said: “There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to fixing congestion; the recommendations are a bold statement of intent as to what is required to make the Midlands’ motorway network fit for purpose.”

Jeremy Bloom, of Highways England, said: “We agree that a vision for the future will help us to develop an investment strategy that solves the problems over the longer term.”

It has been agreed to take plans forward for discussion.

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Industry 'strangled' by congested roads

Industry in the West Midlands is being ‘strangled’ due to an insufficient road network, business bosses have claimed.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), said it was clear that in its current form the road network was letting businesses down.

“The Black Country is home to renowned manufacturers with world-class reputations,” he said.

“However, without appropriate transport and infrastructure investment, the goods they make cannot be moved around the UK.

“Our location in the heart of the country should give businesses an advantage and opportunities to thrive, not strangle them with an insufficient road network.”

He said that the BCCC wanted to see better usage of the M6 Toll, which has also been flagged up as a recommendation in the Midlands Connect report.

Julian Pottinger, director of Little Pot Travel, a haulage firm based in Oldbury, said: “Congestion is a massive issue in the Black Country, both getting in to and out of the area.

“For haulage companies like mine that drives up costs through wasted fuel, time and resources.

“Improvements like smart motorway upgrades seem to be working, but more needs to be done to make the motorways run more smoothly in the future.”

Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Engine and Midlands Connect, said: “One third of all British road freight travels from, through or to the Midlands, so our region suffers more than most from congestion, affecting the national as well as the regional economy.”

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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