Work linked to HS2 set to begin near Staffordshire M6 junction later this year
Work linked to the controversial HS2 project is set to begin near a north Staffordshire junction of the M6 later this year.
Junction improvements at the Hanchurch Interchange, which links the motorway with the A500 at J15, are part of the early works planned to create off-route roads and manage traffic ahead of the construction of the high speed rail line through Staffordshire.
Work is also set to take place near Lichfield later this year, HS2 representatives told county councillors.
Junction improvements will be made at Wood End Lane, alongside modifications to the A515 and carriageway widening.
Other highways work is set to include construction of a bridge and associated slip roads across the M6 at Yarnfield Lane, near Stone.
Campaigners fighting the HS2 project, including those based at a protest camp set up near Swynnerton last year, welcomed the announcement in November that part of the eastern leg of the line was being scrapped.
Work is continuing on the western section between the West Midlands and Crewe however, and Staffordshire County Council’s prosperous overview and scrutiny committee was given an update on Thursday.
Jason Pacey, head of community and stakeholder engagement for Phase 2a of HS2, which will run through Staffordshire to Crewe, told the committee: “We are nearing the end of ground investigation work. By the end of March we will have finished with the vast majority.
“In the next few weeks we expect Balfour Beatty (infrastructure company) to start securing sites for early environmental works they are doing along the line.
“Later this year we are expecting construction to start around the Wood End Lane area near Lichfield and Junction 15 of the M6.”
Contracts are expected to be awarded to companies later this year for advanced civil works, the committee was told.
Councillor Philip Hudson asked: “What assurance do we have that whoever you use will be employing people local to Staffordshire or based in England? The last thing we need is lots of people coming in from outside the area when Staffordshire people could be doing this job.”
Councillor David Smith suggested links could be formed with Staffordshire University to enable people working on the HS2 project to gain qualifications through short courses.
Committee members heard that HS2 is set to offer an education programme to secondary school pupils, with 12 workshops agreed so far for 11-14-year-olds.
Rebecca Young, skills and employment strategy manager at HS2, said: “It is very much about engaging them on the life of an infrastructure project like HS2. For example they will be designing futuristic railway stations and looking at the engineering around tunnels and designing a railway network.”