Hold-up continues on Birmingham Road improvements
MOTORISTS are no nearer to learning when a £2.7m project to improve Birmingham Road will begin – despite funding being in place for more than three years. The arterial road has long been identified as the biggest problem area in Stratford’s network, with drivers regularly experiencing long delays.
Last month it was the scene of yet another collision, the latest in a string of accidents this year.
The incident prompted renewed calls for road layout changes, which could prevent similar occurrences in the future. Improvements to the stretch were consistently found to be residents’ top priority in each of Stratford’s annual transport summits, chaired by MP Nadhim Zahawi.
Despite initially failing to win funding from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the county council agreed to step in and provide £2.7m for the works in 2017.
Planned improvements include:
- A new slip road into Tesco;
- Converting the existing two-lane outbound section to inbound from St Peter’s Way to Joseph Way; and
- Widening two lanes between the Regal Road roundabout and Hamlet Way.
However, it’s been far from plain sailing since then and last year, following questions from the Herald, the county council admitted that no works would begin before the end of that financial year, this April.
With that date too passed, Stratford residents could be forgiven for wondering whether work will ever begin.
Cllr Jeff Clarke, portfolio holder for transport and planning at the county council, said the authority was looking to start work as soon as possible, but did not offer a start date.
He added: “The overall aim of the scheme is to improve the flow of traffic into and out of Stratford, and to provide cycle and pedestrian facilities. There are different ways of achieving this and the preferred option, which includes wide and in part segregated pedestrian and cyclist facilities, has gone on to the initial design stage, but during this work utility diversion costs were found to be much higher than anticipated.
“As these changes could not be designed out, we’ve gone back to the utility companies to get a more accurate cost for these diversions based on our preferred design, and due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic this process is taking much longer than normal.
“We are currently also applying for additional funding for these additional costs. Completion of the funding package and confirmed estimates from the utilities companies will allow us to programme the works to take place. We are also looking at opportunities to complete works in discrete stages in order to start construction as soon as possible.”
District councillor Jason Fojtik (Independent) this week urged the county to make some progress: “If Covid-19 is used as a reason for these works being delayed, that would be unacceptable.
“This business with Birmingham Road has been going on for years now and if the money for these improvements is now in place, as we are told it is, they really need to pull their finger out and start work. Ideally this work would have started back in March, but there is still the opportunity to make progress now before winter comes.”
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