Traffic issues investigated after gridlock on way to West Brom v Millwall

A new traffic management system outside The Hawthorns is being "looked at" after fans faced major delays getting to the ground.

Fans walk along Halfords Lane ahead of West Brom's match against Millwall. Photo: AMA
Fans walk along Halfords Lane ahead of West Brom's match against Millwall. Photo: AMA

Sandwell Council introduced the new match day traffic management measures around West Brom's ground for the club's Championship match against Millwall on Saturday "to help improve the safety environment".

The plan intended to improve the situation for local residents by stopping supporters parking in the Albion Estate, which backs onto the ground, and extending a closure on Halfords Lane to stop vehicles accessing it from the railway bridge unless heading to designated car parks.

Fans driving to The Hawthorns were asked to find alternative parking arrangements away from the ground and local residential streets and encouraged to use public transport.

However, the council has been forced to review the plan after some fans struggled to get to the ground in time for the 3pm kick off, with some reporting delays of two hours from the M5.

Sandwell Council said most of the congestion was caused by a broken down vehicle at Junction 1 of the motorway but that it would be checking the island's traffic lights for faults.

Kevin Cox said on Twitter: "The congestion on Saturday was caused by the traffic light system being overwhelmed by the sheer number of traffic and people ignoring the lights.

"What happened to the police presence that used to be there before Covid."

Ashley Burtoft added: "Sure these measures were introduced with good intentions, but impact on traffic approaching the ground was awful.

"Hour and a half to get from J2 to the stadium.

"Surely something can be done to manage flow of traffic around J1? The lights don’t work with that level of congestion."

A map of the changes on Halfords Lane. Photo: Sandwell Council

Richard James Hale said: "Traffic was an absolute joke today.

"Everyone I spoke to had problems getting to the ground & parking.

"It’s embarrassing & simply shouldn’t be happening every home game & getting worse. Sort it out."

The council has issued a statement about comments made following the congestion issues.

A spokesman for Sandwell Council said: "Our highways team are looking at the congestion issues that arose on Saturday.

"The only change to the traffic management around the ground was an extension to the usual closure that's always been in place on Halfords Lane, which now extends to the railway bridge.

"The changes were made to reduce the problems residents have with blocked drives and inappropriate parking on the Albion estate and to improve safety for fans on foot.

"The majority of the congestion was around the M5 island, where there was a broken down vehicle.

"We'll also be looking at the traffic signals on the island to ensure there are no faults.

"Fans are encouraged to use public transport whenever possible for future matches to limit congestion.

"We'll be talking to partners about the potential to increase public transport services on match days."

The Millwall match, which ended 1-1, was also marred by violence with footage emerging of rival fans fighting and throwing cans and bottles at each other.

The Baggies were due to play Derby at The Hawthorns on Tuesday evening.

Ahead of introducing the road changes, Sandwell Council said the new measures would limit unnecessary vehicles and restrict all but residential vehicles from entering the Albion estate.

It said the entrance to the estate would be fully marshalled to only allow residents cars to enter.

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