The establishment of the new Black Country Transport Team, which sets out a 15-year strategy for improvements to the region’s motorways, rail routes, metro links, key roads and interchanges, was approved by cabinet last night.
Wolverhampton Council will host the ongoing initiative on behalf of the four Black Country local authorities, in collaboration with Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley.
Combined, the Black Country Transport priorities amount to £2.1 billion of investment.
The plan was outlined to members by Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment.
“When we talk about the importance of relighting the city, transport is a key element of any growth and helping to create jobs,” he said.
“For a long time we’ve worked as Black Country authorities in collaboration on many projects, and of course that means Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley have come together both historically and more recently in terms of making sure we use our resources wisely.
“We do work together as a Black Country local authority and we’ve always supported strategic transport networks.
“We’re talking about the strategic Black Country network, whether that be rail, metro, motorways – and of course the linking up of existing motorways and key corridors, not the day-to-day work each local authority does in terms of its highways and safety.
“We’ve worked collaboratively with our partners Transport for West Midlands and more recently the West Midlands Combined Authority, but there are grants out there that we need to access through the Department for Transport,” he added.
“We had a number of options we could look at, but sadly the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership can’t deliver on these bigger projects, although they have delivered on many others previously.
“Going forward we are asking cabinet to approve the creation of the Black Country Transport Team; a small team but nonetheless working on projects that can take three to five years to develop.
“These are projects that look at least ten years ahead. We would be the lead host on behalf of the other Black Country local authorities, based in Wolverhampton.
“There are some big projects already delivered, some under way and hopefully a lot more to come that will help us to create the right transport networks that will support growth and jobs,” said Councillor Evans.
“Becoming an events city means people will have to travel, whether that be by bus, train, metro, car or on cycles. It doesn’t matter where they come from, we have to look at the transport networks.
“This move gives us the opportunity to bid for those important grants and funding and deliver on the projects going forward.
“We need to think about the four Black Country authorities funding £25,000 which will be reviewed yearly, and we would also need a commissioning budget and each local authority would give £40,000 per annum, again to be reviewed yearly.
“I can only see this as a benefit for Wolverhampton, the Black Country and the West Midlands,” said Councillor Evans.
The Black Country’s overall development strategy is based on growth to four strategic centres – Wolverhampton, Walsall, Brierley Hill and West Bromwich – and sixteen regeneration corridors, where transport improvements underpin new growth.
In recent years Black Country local authorities have identified a number of priority transport improvement schemes to be delivered over the next ten years.
These are designed to connect the area to any key business opportunities emerging across the West Midlands during that time.
Overall, the council estimates that this approach will create 132,000 new Jobs from 2023, 630,000 new homes by 2026 and an added extra gross value of £17 billion by 2033.