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M5 congestion-busting plans to curb Oldbury viaduct roadworks

By Megan Archer | Oldbury | Transport | Published:

Parts of a nightmare M5 Oldbury viaduct scheme could be abandoned to put an end to hellish delays which have lasted for two years.

The M5 roadworks, at an earlier stage, between J1 at West Bromwich and J2 at Oldbury

Highways England has said it is reviewing 'non-safety critical work' between Junction 1 and 2 where long-running roadworks have led to huge delays.

The end is finally in sight for the overrun scheme, which has regularly led to traffic backing up to the M6 junction, at Great Barr.

Project leaders say they are ready to give up on some parts of the job, including painting railings, as they believe it could hold up drivers unnecessarily.

Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber Corin Crane said the news would be welcomed greatly by local businesses.

More on the scheme

Traffic has been filed into two narrow lanes running in both directions and crawling at 30mph between Junctions 1 and 2, between West Bromwich and Oldbury, since the work started.

To make matters worse, there have been more roadworks running near the M6 junction, adding to delays.

The job is one of the largest carried out on a UK motorway and Highways England says the work is essential.

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Work is expected to be completed in the spring after the project was delayed by six months because of the hot summer.

Highways England said parts of the work that are not crucial could be left until a later date to try and get traffic moving again.

Head of service delivery, Andy Butterfield, said: “We’re committed to completing vital repair work on the M5 at Oldbury as quickly and as safely as possible while doing all we can to reduce disruption to motorists, business and residents.

“We’ve completed all the repairs on the southbound carriageway and work on the northbound carriageway is well under way.

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“Due to the high number of repairs carried out on the southbound carriageway work is ongoing to review the scope of any additional, non-safety critical work.

“Early indications are that the northbound carriageway is in a similar condition to the southbound and our priority remains to ensure the safety critical work is completed.

“We are working hard to complete the repairs on the northbound carriageway by spring 2019.”

Mr Crane said: “From our perspective, businesses are screaming out for the M5 to be as open as it possibly can.

Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber Corin Crane

“The longer the M5 work goes on, the more congestion there will be.

“Providing this work is genuinely non-critical, then this would be welcomed by businesses.”

Mr Crane mentioned the ongoing HS2 project and work on M6 junction 10 meant that soon projects would be overlapping, meaning more heavy traffic.

He added: “Bar skills, this is our number one issue for businesses. The frustration congestion causes is a huge issue.”

Major work to repair the Oldbury viaduct between Junction 1 and Junction 2 of the M5 started almost two years ago and has seen traffic filtered onto one side of the carriageway and the speed limit cut.

A vast amount of scaffolding at the viaduct

Traffic has been filed into two narrow lanes running in both directions and crawling at 30mph between Junctions 1 and 2, between West Bromwich and Oldbury, since the work started.

The £100 million scheme was due to continue until spring 2019 but has overrun by about six months due to the hot summer.

Highways England said the work – including concrete repairs and waterproofing – is the largest concrete repair project, by value, ever carried out in Britain.

Head of service delivery at Highways England, Andy Butterfield, said the agency were ‘committed’ to completing the repair work ‘as quickly and as safely as possible’ while also doing all they can to reduce disruption for drivers using the popular motorway.

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Deputy Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Deputy Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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