Cars have driven down Victoria Street for the final time as the road becomes forever traffic-free under a £15.7 million council project.
The road, which runs from the Beatties building past the Mander Centre down to Cleveland Street, was pedestrianised to help social distancing when coronavirus arrived in spring 2020 but is now being permanently changed.
Drivers are also facing eight months of diversions, with roads at either end of Victoria Street closed while the bulk of the work takes place this year.
North Street and Mitre Fold, next to the Civic Halls, will not reopen until the end of September while Salop Street is closed from School Street to Victoria Street until the end of July.
The first phase of the project will see a new pedestrianised square created where Victoria Street meets Bell Street and Skinner Street just down from the city's major shopping centres.
A 'box park' is being built on Bell Street with a view to it hosting live entertainment and food and drink sellers, and empty buildings on Cleveland Street are to be demolished for a new car park.
While on the other side of the city centre, extra space is to be created for pedestrians outside the Civic Hall ready for when it eventually reopens. The venue has been closed since 2015 as part of a council project which has cost more than four times its original budget and is now six years behind schedule.
Mitre Fold is to be pedestrianised and the road on North Street will be moved closer to the Civic Centre creating a wider, safer area for gathering crowds.
A new cycle route will also be built through North Street and a road is to be created linking Paternoster Row and North Street in a bid to help the traffic flow.
Councillor Steve Evans, the council cabinet member responsible for overseeing the work, said: “We want people to enjoy our city centre from the moment they arrive, and our public realm works will be transformational, forming a key part of Wolverhampton’s recovery plan following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“They will deliver real, tangible benefits for businesses, residents and visitors to our city centre, supporting the development of our five-year events strategy, which will get into full swing this year, with the Commonwealth Games cycling time trial, British Art Show 9, our first-ever Creation Day Festival and the reopening of our Civic Halls.
“To deliver this transformation there will of course need to be a period of disruption for businesses, residents and visitors. But we will strive to keep this to a minimum and would urge people to remain patient as the long-term results will be hugely beneficial for all.”
The early stages of the work, which is being carried out by contractors Eurovia, began in the summer last year.
The scheme is being funded by £15.7 million Wolverhampton Council was granted under the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.