Birmingham is on target to deliver an £800 million revolution in city centre transport links, business leaders have been told.
The Metro extension, New Street Gateway, Birmingham airport expansion, and an overhaul of bus services into the city centre will combine to transform routes in and out of the city, generate investment and create jobs it has been claimed.
In a presentation to business leaders, the council, Centro and the four city centre business improvement districts (BIDs), announced that all the schemes, including a “Vision for Movement” project launched a year ago, are on course.
Gary Taylor of the Broad Street BID said: “This is a result of joined-up thinking in the city centre and about developing options for those walking around, using the car or using public transport.”
He said they had drawn up Vision for Movement based on principles of making the city walkable, more efficient use of the roads and integrating public transport.
He said that Broad Street BID had proved instrumental in developing a “Sprint” rapid transit system – a special bus service from Five Ways to Walsall along the A34.
“There is now more transport investment going on in this city than there has been at any time during the 23 years I have worked here,” he added.
The business leaders heard that New Street Station’s £600 million transformation will be completed on time in 2015 and with legal and financial hurdles tackled, construction will begin on the Snow Hill Metro extension next summer when buses are cleared from Corporation Street.
The £62 million airport expansion and linked A45 development will also be completed by 2015.
Next year bus users in Birmingham will also see major changes with a £14 million project to create new bus hubs around the city centre at Snow Hill, Paradise Circus, the Bullring Markets, Moor Street, Bull Street and New Street Station.
Road routes will also be altered with Moor Street returning to two directions of travel.
A further £3 million will be invested in pedestrian routes and signs after criticism over its walkways – particularly links between the major rail stations. The walkway between Moor Street and New Street is expected to be improved.
While the four-year projects are on course the city council’s assistant director of transport strategy David Bull said: “This is just the start, we have even more in the pipeline.
“I fully expect the High Speed 2 to be delivered into the city centre. We expect a decision on the Washwood Heath HS2 maintenance depot before Christmas, and it is not a case of whether or not there will be a depot, but whether it will employ 300 people or create 1,000 jobs.”
He highlighted a range of longer term projects such as further Metro lines, the redevelopment of Paradise Circus and the reopening of the Camp Hill Accords are likely to further boost Birmingham’s profile as a connected business city.
Council leader Mike Whitby added: “Developing a modern, integrated and user friendly transport system is crucial to Birmingham’s continued development as a world-class city in which to live, work and do business.
“From the airport to Metro, New Street Gateway to the improved road network, we have clearly begun down a path of truly transformational change in how we travel within and beyond the city.”
The meeting heard a plea from Andy Munro of the Jewellery Quarter Association urging them to consider some short term projects to improve movement between the Quarter and the wider city centre.
“There is little connecting the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth, the two creative districts of the City Centre. We need to make the routes interesting and comfortable, so people aren’t aware they have walked half-a-mile,” he said.
There were further complaints that traffic congestion, particularly around Colmore Row, needs to be tackled in the short-term.