The first half of the new year will be crucial in undoing 30 years of transport neglect in the West Midlands, business leaders have warned.
A feasibility study on road pricing and other measures to tackle congestion will be reported back to the seven district authorities in the summer.
The West Midlands Business Transport Group, a lobby group including major business organisations, says the study is a "major step in the right direction" - especially as it has been involved in the policy from the start.
Jerry Blackett, chairman of the WMBTG, believes that too often in the past, although it has been a goal of the business community to become a partner with transport planners, consultation has come too late and the chance to make meaningful improvements been too difficult.
"The business community is involved at the highest level of detail in specifying the best approach to defining and measuring the impacts of road-pricing scenarios on the region's competitiveness," said Mr Blackett.
"This is involving unprecedented levels of access to top decision-makers and disclosure of work plans to a degree we have not seen before.
"Who better to involve in the issue of competitiveness than the business community? It's what we do."
He said the business community had a much deeper understanding of the "complexities" and said it now shared a responsibility for the quality of work being done to tackle the crippling congestion crisis facing the region.
"It all means that, by the end of the study, we will arrive at analysis that is as robust as it can be and business should have no reason whatsoever to complain that 'nobody asked us'," he said.
Clearly mindful of the dis-quiet among a number of businesses across the West Midlands, Mr Blackett stopped short of offering unqualified support for cong estion charging being introduced.
He said: "Road pricing may have a contribution to make but only as part of an integrated solution that sees massive new investment in our roads and public transport.
"The important thing for this region is that we are starting this work with competitiveness with jobs and wealth creation firmly in our minds. And business is a partner."
It was recently revealed that just ten per cent of West Midlands drivers support user charging across the network. Many more support the scheme's introduction on a road-by-road basis and as part of an overall package of transport improvements.
Meanwhile, a small business group is advising members to contest any moves to introduce a London-style congestion charge.
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) said: "Any move towards London-style congestion charging in Birmingham and the West Midlands would amount to a tax on visitors who want to either shop or do business in the region.
"Why do you want to drive them away with tax?"
The FPB believes the London congestion charge is driving retailers out of London and said the same would happen in the West Midlands.
A spokesman for the seven West Midlands authorities jointly carrying out the £2.6 million road pricing feasibility study said: "The FPB should be aware that we ruled out adopting a London-style charge six months ago.
"Our aim is to tackle congestion on the region's roads and we have the backing of a significant proportion of the West Midlands business community in that aim."