Work on a £9 million project to cut congestion in Birmingham city centre will begin this year after the Government gave the scheme the green light.
A series of improvements to the Birmingham ring road is set to go ahead after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announce he was backing plans drawn up by the city council.
The enhancements are designed to make it easier for traffic to get into the city’s official “enterprise zone”, which includes the Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth and the science park at Aston, as well as the revamped New Street station and the planned new high speed rail station new Curzon Street.
But they will also make it easier for people in areas of the city with high levels of unemployment to find work by making travel across the city easier, according to the local authority. A document submitted to the Department for Transport by the council highlighted Hodge Hill as one of the places that would benefit.
Work on the scheme is expected to begin in November. Central government is providing £3.9 million, with further funding coming from the local authority and the private sector.
It follows warnings from the city council that congestion at key junctions and roundabouts, such as Bordesley Circus, was preventing the city’s economy from growing as quickly as it could.
Improvements will be made to Bordesley Circus; Haden Circus; Curzon Circle, and Ashted Circus, on the A4540, as well as Holloway Circus on the A38.
Mr McLoughlin also announced the Government had approved plans for a £4.2 million expansion of park and ride sites at Stourbridge Junction rail station in Dudley, Kings Norton station in Birmingham and Four Oaks station in Birmingham, providing 300 extra parking spaces, electric vehicle charging points and new cycle hubs, at a cost of £4.2 million. This had been drawn up by local passenger transport authority Centro.
Other West Midland schemes to win approval include:
* Improvements to cut congestion on the A4600 in Coventrty, costing £5.9 million.
* A new roundabout improving access to the Beacon Business Park in Stafford, costing £2.5 million.
* A £2.7 million project to improve access to Alton Towers and the JCB site in Staffordshire.
* Creating a dual carraigeway on the B4451 and B4100 coming off Junction 12 of the M40 to the nearby Aston Martin site in Gaydon, Warwickshire, at a cost of £6.3 million.
* Creating a dual carraigeway on part of Wobaston Road in Wolverhampton at a cost of £3,575.
* A new link road south of Kidderminster town centre in Worcestershire, at a cost of £10.9 million.
The announcements were welcomed by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, which includes local authorities and business leaders.
Partnership spokesman Andrew Cleaves, who is also International Development Director with National Express, said: “The package of measures for the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone not will not only relieve congestion at a series of key locations on the Ring Road, but will support the long-term development of the Enterprise Zone.
“Having the potential to create 40,000 new jobs and increase GDP by £2 billion a year, the Enterprise Zone is a flagship scheme for the LEP and Birmingham City Council’s successful bid will play a major part in moving it forward.”
He added: “These improvements will have not only a significant and lasting impact but more importantly, the local authorities can get on with them quickly.
“And, perhaps most of all, it shows how local authorities and LEPs are working together to support improvements to our transport infrastructure.”
Mr McLoughlin, said: “This government is taking action on both jobs and growth.
“The schemes we have announced today are designed to target key bottlenecks around the country, making life easier for the thousands of motorists and businesses who use the local road network every day.
“Investing in these schemes shows that the government is serious about accelerating growth where it is needed most.
“These schemes have the potential to help create more than 100,000 jobs and around 100,000 new homes.
“I look forward to seeing works underway as soon as possible.”
Councillor Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, said: "Traffic congestion can cause real problems to the smooth running of the city and wider region. Ring road improvements will support the city centre enterprise zone, helping create new floor space for businesses and thousands of new jobs. Keeping the city running is absolutely key to its continued economic growth and I am really pleased that government has recognised this."