First new Metro bridge is installed over Black Country canal

A milestone has been reached on the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension with the first new bridge lowered into place over a canal.

 James Dennison (Canal and River Trust), Iain Anderson (Colas Rail UK Midland Metro Alliance), Ian Collins (Midland Metro Alliance), Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands) and Councillor Jackie Taylor (Sandwell Council) celebrate the installation of the first new structure for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension
James Dennison (Canal and River Trust), Iain Anderson (Colas Rail UK Midland Metro Alliance), Ian Collins (Midland Metro Alliance), Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands) and Councillor Jackie Taylor (Sandwell Council) celebrate the installation of the first new structure for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension

Sections of the Tame Valley, Walsall and Old Main Line Canal were closed periodically in autumn and winter to allow for the demolition of ageing bridges. And this week the first new bridge was put in place over the Walsall Canal in Wednesbury.

The purpose-built structure, made-up of two 54-ton pieces, is one of a number of new bridges which will be installed in coming months for the project and was lowered into place by a 750-ton crane.

The installation took place at night to minimise disruption to those using the towpath and waterway now that lockdown restrictions are easing.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands joined Councillor Jackie Taylor, Sandwell Council cabinet member for sustainable transport, James Dennison, enterprise manager for the Canal & River Trust in the West Midlands and Ian Collins, Midland Metro Alliance project director to mark the milestone.

Mr Street said: “The largest light rail extension being delivered anywhere in the UK, the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension will be a complete game-changer for the region.

"Not only is it providing good quality construction jobs for local workers at a critical time, but it’ll also finally re-connect communities in Dudley and Sandwell that have been cut off from the wider transport network for far too long.

Work taking place on the bridge

"This extension is just one part of my wider 2040 transport plan for the West Midlands, and we will continue to press on with more metro extensions, new rail stations, and cleaner, quicker buses.”

Councillor Taylor added: “The Metro will boost Sandwell’s sustainable public transport options, and as the cabinet member working to deliver those positive outcomes for our citizens I was very pleased to watch this first bridge lowered into place.

"It’s also great to see the towpath and waterways open again for walking and cycling.”

Mr Collins said: “Much of the activity to complete designs, remove the old structure and fabricate a new one has taken place during the pandemic.”

Following the installation of this bridge, similar activities will take place later this summer at the Tame Valley Canal and Old Main Line Canal in Tipton with localised overnight closures to the towpath and waterway.

Adnan Saif, regional director for the Canal & River Trust in the West Midlands, said: “The Metro will bring even more visitors to our waterways.”

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