End finally in sight as completion date given for Pipers Row roadworks
Long-running roadworks in Wolverhampton city centre are now expected to be finished in November, it has been revealed.
Tram line extension work in Pipers Row, which has caused misery for drivers since spring last year, will be finally completed by November 10 – despite bosses promising it would be finished this summer.
Bosses at Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), working for the West Midlands Combined Authority and Wolverhampton Council, decided to move work scheduled for next year forward to “minimise disruption”.
Work on the route will begin on Monday and will last until September 28, before being halted for more than four weeks.
It will re-start for two weeks on October 27 before finally finishing the following month.
Traffic management and barriers will be removed with new paving, kerbing and benches put in place by November 10.
Paul Brown, construction director of the MMA, said: “We are now in a position to confirm the final stages of the current phase of work.
"Following a series of consultations involving the local authority and bus companies we have re-aligned our programme to ensure we minimise disruption to residents, businesses and commuters alike.
“We do appreciate that our works can cause disruption to the travelling public, but we have committed to finish the current improvements in 2019.”
Queen Street and Berry Street will close at their junctions with Pipers Row from Monday until September 21.
Bilston Street will close between Market Street and the roundabout from September 23 to September 28, between 7pm and 4am, for final road surfacing.
Work will then halt for more than four weeks with the route re-opening temporarily.
Pipers Row will then close from October 27 between Bilston Street and Castle Street, with buses being re-routed onto the Ring Road St David’s.
Drivers will be able to exit onto Pipers Row by November 3, with the last phase of works taking place between Railway Drive and Castle Street until November 10.
Metro chief defends new roadworks delay
The work is part of the extension of the Midland Metro tram line to connect the current end of the line at Wolverhampton St George's to the railway station.
It all forms part of a multi-million pound project to boost transport links which also includes the ongoing redevelopment of the railway station.
Mr Brown praised the handling of the long-running project, despite a string of complaints from drivers and business owners.
He said: “The Pipers Row works finish date was September – as we always said – and then to create less disruption and get it ended, to have it all over if you like, we decided to go forward.
“We got into the conversations a number of weeks ago about the surfacing we put down last year to let buses run through.
“It was agreed we would replace that and it seemed a great opportunity before the winter, and when the kids are on half-term, to create the least disruption.
“In general, we have maintained full pedestrian and traffic flow and there’s been very minimum disruption, in my opinion – schemes have been a lot worse than this.
“I think everyone will be happy with a barrier-free Pipers Row for Christmas,” he said.
Access to businesses has been retained throughout the project, which started in March 2018.
Temporary resurfacing work, which was put in for buses to travel on last September, will take place at the end October as part of the improvements.
Mr Brown added: “The resurfacing was always temporary, it was put in for the buses last September.
“It wasn’t envisaged we would complete it this year until a few weeks ago, but it made sense for us to finish it this year.
“I think now, to have 75 per cent of 2020 without disruption by finishing in 2019 makes much more sense.
“It will then be taken over by Wolverhampton and they will have their city centre back.
“But as we have pointed out, it will be a huge benefit once it is in operation.”
'No major complaints'
Workers on the route had to cope with a sewer collapse and torrential rain but the boss insisted workers were moved to other locations so they were not idle – an issue raised by businesses leaders in the city.
And Mr Brown insisted no business had been ignored during the roadworks, with messages put out on social media and on advertising boards to help make visitors aware.
Mr Brown said: “Shervorne Brown, a full-time member of staff, works with businesses and she’s contactable.
“She met with and chatted with them about any concerns they had. I, as a project director, receive phone calls from people – I wish I had a pound for everyone who called me.
“We’ve maintained access throughout and body can say they have never had access. We’ve bought quite a lot to the party.”
Ms Brown, stakeholder liaison officer, said there had been no "major complaints" but acknowledged there would never be a good time to carry out the work.
“The high street sector is struggling and it’s never good for construction to take place," she added.
“We really care that people can get through to us. They know it will be done and disruption and people can see there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Construction director Paul Brown added: “Once it goes from the actual train station people will be absolutely over the moon – it will be a real asset to Wolverhampton and the West Midlands in general.
“When it’s all completed it will look amazing, Wolverhampton will look amazing.”