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West Midlands drivers crawl along at less than 20mph

Sandwell | News | Published:

Motorists in the West Midlands are still crawling through traffic at an average of less than 20mph – but increased by 0.9mph over the last year – official figures have revealed.

Motorists in the West Midlands are still crawling through traffic at an average of less than 20mph – but increased by 0.9mph over the last year – official figures have revealed.

A business leader today suggested the rise may be down to falling numbers of road users as petrol costs price motorists off the road and unemployment remains high. Drivers face a big difference in speeds depending on where they are. In rural Staffordshire they can get up to an average of 28.3mph while in Wolverhampton they struggle to get above 17.3mph.

Sandwell has seen the biggest improvement in average speeds over the past 12 months, up from 17.6mph to 19.4mph.

The figures from the Department for Transport relate only to local authority-run A roads.

In Walsall the average speed is 20.1mph, up from 18.9mph a year ago.

Dudley drivers can reach 19mph now compared with 17.8mph in 2011.

The improvements in Sandwell and Dudley could be down to the end of a highly disruptive two-year scheme to rip out the Burnt Tree Island and replace it with traffic lights.

But Sandwell has sped up despite work continuing on the £25m West Bromwich underpass on the A41.

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Wolverhampton's motoring woes are set to worsen later this year.

The Vine Island on the A449 Stafford Road is to be moved and the road widened in a £3m scheme to allow for extra traffic going to the i54 business park. And a £36.7m project to extend the slip roads from the M54 onto the site will also take place.

Colin Leighfield, chairman of the transport policy group at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: "I think the main reason that speeds have gone up will be because due to the current economic situation there are fewer people driving."

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