M6 motorway junction upgrade

Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

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Published: 28th February 2017

This Article was Written by: Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

  


This month Walsall Council and Highways England unveiled plans for a multi-million pound improvement project to the M6 motorway. The chosen designs for the Black Country Route Roundabout were put out for public consultation over Christmas, revealing some uncertainty as to whether the upgrades will deliver all that has been promised.

Official designs for the £64.5m expansion upgrade to Junction 10 (Walsall, near Birmingham) of the M6 motorway were settled in December. The plans include the construction of two new bridges by 2020 and the expansion of the A454 roundabout from two lanes to four.

The route will be widened from Junction 10 to the Bentley Mill Way Bridge and improvements will be made to the Wolverhampton Road and Bloxwich Lane junction. It is hoped these changes will increase overall capacity from approximately 8,000 vehicles per hour to 10,500 vehicles per hour during peak times.

Bt the plans don’t stop there. Further improvements will include the enhancement of pedestrian and cycle facilities around the junction too.

Overall, the project aims to dramatically relieve congestion at this notorious pressure point between Walsall and Wolverhampton, improving the commuter experience and raising safety standards at the same time.

Initial responses to the proposals were positive, although one unsatisfied local expressed their concerns on the matter: “The design is wrong. Doesn’t matter how many lanes wide it is. The solution is to put a flyover in for the 454. Then vehicles only need to go round the junction if they’re changing routes.”

Similar suggestions have been made subsequent to the updated proposals, with others citing the most recent population statistics released by the ONS as the reason for rethinking the design. Estimates suggest that Britain could become the most populous country in Europe by 2047. Widening the road, therefore, is seen as only a short-term solution.

However, public consultations held throughout December 2015 revealed that 92% of the public were eager to see improvements made to the roundabout, with many supporting the plans for two new curved bridges to replace the existing ones built in the 1960s.

Councillor Lee Jeavons, deputy leader and portfolio holder for transport and regeneration at Walsall Council said: “Of the two, this chosen design is seen as the most effective at reducing congestion, offers the best value for money and will improve safety for all road users.”

He added: “Changes to the roundabout will not only cut travel time for motorists but encourage businesses and jobs to stay in the region and not move elsewhere.

“Improving the road network in the area will support the Darlaston area of the Black Country Enterprise Zone, which totals around 45 hectares of land.”

Highways England and Walsall Council together form the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and are jointly funding scheme. While still subject to planning permission, construction work is expected to start on site in late 2018 after preparatory work is complete.

David Reed, Highways England project manager, said: “Highways England and Walsall Council are both committed to cutting congestion and improving safety at M6 Junction 10. Working in partnership we have developed a design that will deliver more reliable journey times and, at the same time, provide a significant boost to the Midlands economy.”

Members of the public can view the designs up until the end of February at events across the city. The next phase of the consultation is slated to take place over the summer of 2017, the results of which will directly affect the outcome of the planning decision.

For further details and updates on the project, visit the Highways England website.


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