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Relief for motorists as M5 roadworks nearing end after two years

By Richard Guttridge | Oldbury | Transport | Published:

It is one of the most expensive motorway repair schemes ever - and one which has had drivers tearing their hair out.

But finally, after more than two years, the roadworks at the Oldbury viaduct on the M5 will soon be coming to an end.

The scale of the project between Junctions 1 for West Bromwich and 2 for Oldbury has been huge, and so has the impact on commuters and other motorists.

At times traffic has come to a standstill and on most days at peak times reduced to crawling pace as the huge volume of vehicles at one of the busiest sections of motorway in the country negotiated its way through the works.

The job started so long ago some drivers may struggle to remember a time when that section of the M5 ran smoothly.

Hundreds of people have been working on the viaduct which has been surrounded by scaffolding

It was back in the autumn of 2017 that work got under way to repair the crumbling viaduct and, for safety reasons, it was work that couldn't be put off.

Experts then discovered the repair job was much bigger than they thought, meaning it would take longer to complete.

A contraflow system has been in place, allowing teams to work safely on one side of the carriageway while traffic ran on the other, in two narrow lanes.

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That combined with a reduced speed limit for safety reasons has caused long delays.

Roadworks have begun to be lifted on the southbound carriageway, with three lanes to be re-opened by mid-December. Finishing touches are being added to northbound carriageway, ahead of a full opening before Christmas.

Sandwell Council leader Yvonne Davies said the full re-opening of the stretch would bring Christmas cheer for motorists.

She said: "It will be a huge relief. Having standing traffic polluting our area is not something we want to see.

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The long-running roadworks on the M5 between junctions 1 and 2

"It has been going on for a long period of time and we are all waiting for the thing to finish but these things do take time.

"But when you have to deal with it day to day it feels like a very long time."

Councillor Roger Lawrence, a former transport boss at the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: "It has taken an awful long time but it is a fairly major structure that needed renewal.

"There has been an impact on the local area but Sandwell has been very proactive."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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