Business leaders in Birmingham city centre say they have no fears over plans to close key tunnels for major repair work.
The A38 St Chad’s and Queensway tunnels will shut for repairs and new lighting from July 19 to September 2.
But cars will also be banned from the inbound stretch of Broad Street between the Hyatt Hotel and Paradise Circus at the same time, with the intention of avoiding gridlock at Paradise Circus.
The restrictions will not apply to buses, taxis and cyclists.
However, the closure of the major route to cars has raised fears of traffic chaos for many travelling in from the west of the city.
But representatives from the two most affected business districts – around Colmore Row and Broad Street – welcomed the work, and said they were confident it would be business as usual.
Work on the 40-year-old tunnels will be carried out in the summer as traffic can be lighter by as much as a third. About 18 million vehicles travel through the tunnels in total each year.
Michele Wilby, executive director of Colmore Business District (CBD), said that the vast majority of workers in the area did not travel by car.
She said: “While no-one in Colmore Business District wants more traffic congestion on already-busy roads, we accept the need for urgent safety maintenance to keep the arteries of the city open.
“CBD also sees this as an opportunity to encourage and help people in the District to try alternative forms of transport, including rail, cycling and bus.
“We are providing help for people to change their choice of commuter mode for the duration of the closure, in the hope that longer-term travel habits will be formed that are better for health, better for congestion and better for business.”
The city council’s road contractor, Amey, said the work was vital and formed part of a £330 million investment in the Birmingham road network.
Councillor Tahir Ali said it would bring longer term benefits to both the city and the businesses based here.
Earlier this year CBD polled 300 workers from the district on their main method of transportation, finding only 31 per cent travelled by car, with 41 per cent using trains and less than eight per cent travelling by bus.
Other work as part of the scheme includes removal and replacement of dangerous and dying trees.
The impact of the Broad Street closure is likely to be felt mostly by commuters from Edgbaston, Harborne, the Black Country and those who have come off the M5 at junction 3.
Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID) manager Mike Olley said he had spoken with many businesses in the area and few were concerned.
“We didn’t get a tickle really – there was little or no interest,” he said.
“Our interest was in how it affected staff getting in and out, but it just means a bit of a minor route change.”
He added: “Anyone who can offer an alternative to closing the Queensway, then let’s hear it. I don’t want it to happen – and I don’t think anyone does – but the last time we did this was when Bill Clinton was coming into Birmingham.
“It is in need of renovation.”
Deputy council leader Ian Ward told the Post he had not been made aware that a stretch of Broad Street would be off limits to cars until recently.
Coun Ward (Lab, Shard End) said: “We have not communicated this well. I have ensured that the information is now available on the city council website.
“I have been told that these were among details which were due to be released as the July 19 tunnel closure date got nearer.”
Opposition Tory transport spokeswoman Deirdre Alden (Edgbaston), who first revealed the closure, said: “The Labour leadership look completely incompetent.
“They are not being properly briefed about what is going on.”