Work moves forward on Metro extension

Work to extend a transport network has taken a further step forward following the demolition of an aged structure along the route.

The Tame Valley canal bridge is being demolished in another major step forward in construction for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension.
The Tame Valley canal bridge is being demolished in another major step forward in construction for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension.

Demolition of the Tame Valley canal bridge is the latest step in the work to stretch the West Midlands Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.

It follows the demolition of a similar installation on the Walsall Canal late last year which was completed ahead of schedule.

The Old Main Line Canal bridge in Tipton will be the last of the canal structures to be cleared as part of the scheme with work expected to get underway in February.

A crane arrived at Tame Valley on Monday heralding the start of the demolition which will take several days to complete.

The canal, which has been closed to boat and towpath traffic to allow the works to take place, is expected to reopen in the coming weeks.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It is brilliant to see that despite the pandemic we are able to press ahead with the construction of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension.

“Not only is the extension the biggest light rail project in the UK, but it is also a creator of local jobs and driver of our regional economy at such a challenging time.

“The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension will be a huge connectivity boost for the people of Dudley and Sandwell, and it also forms a key part of my wider plans for public transport across the West Midlands after decades of under investment.

Regeneration

“I am delighted we have reached another milestone on the extension and want to say a huge thank you to all the staff who have helped make this happen despite the pandemic.”

Councillor Jackie Taylor, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for sustainable transport, added: “I am happy to see work is progressing well on the project.

“This extension will bring much-needed investment and regeneration to Sandwell and will make it easier for people to travel across the region using a sustainable mode of transport.

“As work takes place on the bridge, to combat any inconvenience, please plan your travel and consider walking or cycling if you are able to do so.”

The Midland Metro Alliance, working on behalf of Transport for West Midlands, has continued to make significant progress on the project in recent weeks with work intensifying in several areas including the upgrade and diversion of utilities in Dudley, the demolition of old structures in Sandwell, and clearing the disused South Staffordshire Railway which will make up more than seven kilometres of the new tramway.

Hamish Falconer, assistant delivery manager, said: “This removal is part of a package of work which will eventually see three canal bridges replaced with stronger bridge decks.

“The 500-tonne crane was with us for one day to separately lift the existing steel structures spanning the canal, each weighing 33 tonnes.

"Following the removal of the old deck, the remaining structure will be cut to its new height, brick work cleaned and repaired ready to receive the new stronger structure this spring.”

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