Work has finally started on a multi-million scheme to return trams to the centre of Birmingham.
Transport Minister Norman Baker Mr Baker (Lib Dem, Lewes) started the dig at the junction of Corporation Street as Bull Street as the complex task of relocating water pipes and gas cables to make way for the Midland Metro extension.
Carried out by transport authority Centro, the extension from Snow Hill Station to New Street will create 1,500 jobs and is projected to boost the local economy by £50 million a year.
Mr Baker said: “This scheme is great news for Birmingham and the West Midlands and will provide a greener transport choice for those wanting to reach the city’s shopping streets as well as the emerging business district in Snow Hill.
The metro extension will also cut congestion, improve air quality and be a boon for the local economy.
“This is an example of the kind of infrastructure project we need to help boost growth around the UK and that is why I am pleased we have been able to contribute £75 million towards the cost of the scheme.”
Once complete in 2015, the Midland Metro, which runs from Wolverhampton, through West Bromwich into Birmingham, is expected to carry 3.5 million passengers a year.
Trams will travel from Snow Hill, along Bull Street and Stephenson Street.
Coun John Hunt (Lib Dem, Perry Barr), Centro vice chairman, said: “The start of work on the metro extension is a real milestone in the transformation of our city’s transport system.
“It will not only bring jobs and increased economic activity but will also help create a much improved shopping environment especially in Corporation which will be cleaner, quieter and far less congested.”
‘Lack of consultation’: Letters – Page 24