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Delayed M5 roadworks will now run throughout the summer

By Richard Guttridge | Oldbury | Transport | Published:

Work was expected to finish in spring but a new report reveals weeks more delays for motorists.

More misery expected for motorists on the M5

The long-running roadworks on the M5 is set to drag on throughout the busy summer months after hitting yet more delays.

The project, which has caused misery for motorists, will not be completed until autumn – more than two years after it began.

Highways bosses had said work on the Oldbury viaduct between Junctions 1 and 2 would be completed by spring 2019, before changing estimates to “as soon as possible” this year.

Now a new report says the job is due to finish in the autumn.

It means families who hoped the motorway would be clear of work in time for the Easter holidays are likely to be stuck in big queues.

The long-running scheme has caused misery for motorists since 2017.

Long queues at the M5 towards West Bromwich have become a familiar sight

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The M5 has been cut down to two lanes running in either direction at a 30mph speed limit between Junctions 1 and 2 – leading to long delays back to the junction with the M6, one of the busiest intersections in the country.

Traffic ran just on the southbound side of the motorway during the first phase of the project before being switch to the northbound section.

Highways England said it remained its target to remove the contraflow during spring but that some works would continue after then.

A six-month delay to the scheme last year was blamed on the hot summer.

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The repair scheme at the Oldbury viaduct has been one on the biggest in UK motorway history.

A Sandwell Council transport report said: “The project remains on track for completion in the Autumn of 2019.

“Good progress is being made on the repairs to the northbound carriageway and time is being saved based on the some of the lessons learnt from the southbound deck.”

What stage is the work at?

The M5 section between junction 1 and 2 has been running with two narrow lanes of traffic in each direction at 30mph.

This has lead to delays towards the junction with the M6 at Great Barr - one of the busiest intersections in the country.

Work on the southbound side of the carriageway has been completed, with workmen now carrying out “safety critical repairs” on the northbound section.

M5 roadworks factfile

Background on the project

It is the latest setback for the £100 million scheme, which has already been delayed by six months due to the hot summer.

Roads chiefs have insisted they are working to complete the project as soon as possible.

Work got under way in 2017 on essential repairs to the crumbling Oldbury viaduct, which carries thousands of vehicles every day.

There were complications when the project was found to be much bigger than first thought.

Workers identified 6,000 repairs - 4,500 more than anticipated.

Scaffolding have been positioned underneath the viaduct for two years

The original completion date was set for autumn 2018.

Highways England then said the work would be completed by spring, in time for the Easter and summer getaways.

While project bosses said they were aiming to lift the contraflow during spring, work will continue throughout most of 2019.

A new report on the scheme said project leaders had managed to save some time on the northbound section from “lessons learned” on the opposite side, stopping it from running over even further.

The Sandwell Council report said “good progress” was being made.

More M5 disruption is 'maddening'

Luke Bosdet, spokesman for the AA, said more delays would be 'maddening' for motorists.

He said: “A six-month delay is a bitter blow for drivers, particularly those who go through these roadworks day in day out.

"Although this does happen, it winds drivers up no end because they’ve put up with months of disruption and are now being asked to endure more.

“Although there are reasons why there would be delays I think road authorities can underestimate the level of frustration that builds up.

"Once the road improvements have been made everyone can see the benefit but while people are going through it it can be pretty arduous.”

Roger Lawrence, who is head of transport at the West Midlands Combined Authority and leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: “It is going to cause a degree of frustration and it doesn’t help but the scheme has got to be done.

“If there are issues Highways England need to understand what they are and deal with them.”

A Highways England spokesman said: “The repair work on the M5 Oldbury viaduct is essential and we remain committed to completing this work as quickly and as safely as possible, while doing all we can to reduce disruption to motorists, businesses and residents.

“Due to the complex nature of the scheme there are further repairs that require attention.

“We aim to have made enough progress to remove the contraflow in the next few months, with traffic restrictions removed later this year and we’d like to thank motorists for their continued patience while this essential work takes place.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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