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Birchley Island upgrade finally expected to start next year

By Richard Guttridge | Oldbury | Transport | Published:

A long-awaited upgrade to cut congestion at a notorious roundabout is expected to start by the end of next year.

Birchley Island is one of the Black Country's biggest congestion hotspots

Council bosses say plans for a major overhaul of the Birchley Island in Oldbury remain on track and that it is hoped there will be a "spade in the ground" in 12 months' time.

Plans to create a "hamburger" island, allowing traffic to run through the roundabout, have been in the pipeline for years but have yet to come to fruition due to issues over funding.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has already committed cash towards the scheme transport chiefs say is crucial to cutting delays, while a bid for an extra £29m has also been lodged with the Government.

Easing congestion at the Birchley Island has been a key priority for Sandwell Council bosses over recent years, but they have not yet been able to make it happen. Traffic regularly backs up either side of the roundabout on Wolverhampton Road.

According to a new LEP report, the scheme is progressing and pavement investigations will soon be carried out. Roads will also be widened and new traffic lights installed to try and keep traffic moving.

And Sandwell Council leader Yvonne Davies said she expected work on the island to get under way before the end of 2020.

She said: "The Birchley Island is coming up stream and I hope it will absolutely transform that gateway through the Black Country and Sandwell.

"Standing traffic causes a pollutant and that's not what we want. We hope to have a spade in the ground about a year from now."

Councillor Davies said she was confident enough funding for the project would be made available.

She said: "The one thing I'm worried about is is the money there? Sometimes money can disappear but there is absolute commitment from all the key stakeholders that the Birchley Island is the number one priority for the Black Country and Birmingham to make sure we have got transport links that are right for the 21st century."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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