Birmingham Road improvements begin
It’s been years in the making but work on Stratford’s much-delayed Birmingham Road improvement scheme is finally underway.
A lot has happened in the world since the improvement scheme won £2.7million in Government funding back in June 2017- we’ve had two general elections, signed a Brexit deal and of we’ve had 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet throughout this time there has been very little apparent progress on the Birmingham Road scheme- until now.
Last week work was spotted taking place on the stretch between Windsor Street and Arden Street, with Warwickshire County Council confirming to the Herald that this is indeed the first phase of improvements being started.
The most significant improvements will take place around Tesco with a new slip road built into the Maybird Retail Park, though that will take place in a later phase.
There will also be some lane widening and some directional changes in lane usage, though this first phase between Arden Street and Windsor Street will look at improve the road surface as well as cycling and pedestrian paths.
Overall the aim is to speed up traffic flow along the whole stretch.
The entire project had a troubled start with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership turning down a bid from the county council to fund the scheme before the money was eventually secured from central government in 2017.
The subsequent design work also dragged on and it soon became clear that issues with utilities would be costly and complex.
Finally when everything seemed to be in place, the pandemic struck and the decision was made that ensuring good access to the vaccination centre at Stratford Hospital had to take priority over work starting.
All of this has seen the price tag of the project soar, from that initial £2.7million to around £6million with the county council having to dig deep into its pockets.
Although the process has been costly, complex and frustrating, there is no doubting the problem with congestion on Birmingham Road is Stratford’s biggest transport issue.
The road is notorious for long delays and during the Stratford Town Transport Summits concerns of the route consistently ranked highest amongst residents’ concerns.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “This project is long overdue, we’d fully accept that, it’s felt like it’s been jinxed really with the budget, the utilities costs and then Covid, so its such good news that it’s all finally underway. There were national regulations in place that roadworks could not be placed on routes within a mile of vaccination centres so that is what has prevented us from making progress in recent months.
“However I’m happy to say that the contractors are making excellent progress on things so far. I know this is a project residents are really keen to see happen.”
A spokesperson for the Stratford Town Transport Group added: “We are pleased to see it underway. It should improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists, providing clearer connectivity, but this is only a first step. We look forward to phase 2 improvements.”
Cllr Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford District Council, said: “I’m tremendously pleased that work has begun on the Birmingham Road improvements, to say this will be an end to all of Stratford’s traffic issues may be a little optimistic, but I’m convinced this project will make a difference and improve things