Wolf sculptures unveiled on Stafford Road as 18-month A449 work finishes
Three wolf sculptures have been unveiled to mark the completion of long-running roadworks in Wolverhampton.
The wooden wolves are in place in the central reservation of the A449 Stafford Road, where an 18-month scheme to alter the road size and layout has now been completed.
The £6.8 million city north gateway scheme, near the A449's junction with the M54 in Fordhouses, began in October 2017 in an attempt to ease congestion on the busy route and support nearby businesses at the i54 business park.
The completion of the work will be a relief to drivers, who have faced heavy congestion and delays as a result of lane closures and diversions throughout the project.
As part of the scheme, 46 trees were removed from the central reservation near UTC Aerospace, where an extra lane has been installed for southbound drivers turning right. Before starting the work, the council said it would be planting almost 300 new trees in the area to compensate for the loss.
Contractor for the works, Eurovia, then worked with Wolverhampton Council to recycle the trees and create the wolf sculptures which have been carved in three different action poses: running, leaping and howling.
Built by Wolverhampton artist Robot Cossey, they measure 1.5m tall and 2.4m long and a competition has gone out to local primary schools to name them.
Mr Cossey said: “I have been producing sculptures in and around the West Midlands for nearly 20 years.
“It has been a joy to work with Eurovia and Wolverhampton Council on this iconic public art project.
“I will always hold Wolverhampton very close to my heart as I studied at the University in the 1990s and continue to live locally.
“I am very proud to see my work being unveiled on one of Wolverhampton’s key routes to the city.
“I really do hope that members of the local community will enjoy the three wolves just as much as I have in creating them.”
As well as having its layout altered with extra turning lanes and a sliproad from the new service station, Stafford Road has been widened and resurfaced as part of the work.
Although work was only carried out between 9am and 3pm, drivers faced long delays throughout rush hour with lanes temporarily closed off and traffic lights kept running at a junction despite it being closed.
Improving transport network
Councillor Steve Evans, council cabinet member for city environment, said the work was part of a programme of improvements making "a big difference to the transport network in Wolverhampton."
“It is vitally important our road network matches regeneration ambitions and supports businesses and jobs growth in the area," he added.
“Recycling the trees to create the running wolves has been the icing on the cake in this project.
“They are a fantastic addition to the A449 and a great way to mark the completion of the successful scheme.”
The sculptures were initially hidden behind painted hoardings displaying artwork from inmates at Oakwood Prison in Featherstone before being unveiled today.
The paintings were all wolf-themed and included Little Red Riding Hood, a film noir werewolf, a wolf in moonlight, Teen Wolf dressed in a Wolverhampton Wanderers kit and Wile. E Coyote.
They were made as part of an outreach scheme from Eurovia and will now be auctioned off to raise money for mental health charity Mind.
Matthew Stubbings, Divisional Manager at Eurovia, said: “Having worked in Wolverhampton for many years, everyone at Eurovia is delighted that we have been involved in the wolves project that will provide a warm welcome to motorists travelling on one of the key routes into the city.
“As a business committed to putting something back into the local community, it was great to work alongside the team at HMP Oakwood who provided some fantastic artwork to brighten up the hoardings used in the run-up to the grand unveiling.”