The Government has identified 19 key routes in the West Midlands where local councils and the transport authority will be expected to limit congestion over the next five years.
Journey times on main roads including the A38 Bristol Road and Tyburn Road, Hagley Road, Stratford Road, A34 Walsall Road, Dudley Road, and A45 from the airport and NEC into Birmingham city centre, will be used to measure the region's success at tackling congestion.
A Government target has envisaged a growth in travel of four per cent but called for an increase in journey times of no more than five per cent.
It endorses a target set out in the Local Transport Plan submitted to Government by c ouncils and Centro-Passenger Transport Author-ity earlier this year.
Figures will take into account the average rush hour speed and occupancy of cars, as well as delays to buses and the number of passengers using public transport.
West Midlands councils have already made tackling congestion a joint priority.
Traffic congestion is estimated to cost the city region more than £2.5 billion every year, and a major congestion study is under way to investigate the problem and potential long term solutions.
Coun Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton Council and transport spokesman for the the seven West Midlands Metropolitan Authorities together with the Passenger Transport Authority, said: "Congestion is one of the biggest challenges facing the West Midlands. If we don't tackle it, congestion will continue to damage the region's economic competitiveness and quality of life.
"In the longer term, much more needs to be done if we are to avoid gridlock, and that is precisely why the region is undertaking a congestion feasibility study to find innovative solutions to the problem."
Coun Gary Clarke (Con Walsall Streetly), Centro chairman, said: "Improving the quality and attractiveness of public transport will be absolutely crucial to finding long-term solutions to congestion in the West Midlands.
"The evidence is already pointing to how major invest-ment in bus, rail and tram networks can improve the West Midlands economy and help protect the environment of our city region." * The Birmingham Post yesterday attributed comments made about congestion charging by Coun Roger Lawrence to Coun Les Lawrence, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for education. We apologise for the error.