Major changes to Solihull's road network - required as part of the HS2 rail development - continue to cause fear and uncertainty among borough residents.

The installation of new bridges, likened to "giant Lego bricks", and the realignment of sections of road are among the projects set to get underway in the coming months.

But locals remain concerned that alterations to the transport network, combined with heavy construction traffic, will cause massive disruption to the lives of local people.

At a meeting this week, Solihull Council's HS2 Implementation Advisory Group was briefed about the programme of work on the horizon.

Artist's concept of HS2 highways works

The so-called early works, which include laying the ground for more dramatic alterations, are set to start next month, with larger projects to follow.

The creation of four overbridges is due to begin from early June and take up to 12 months - with two in the vicinity of the Interchange Station site, one to take the A452 over the M42 and another to carry the A452 over the A446.

 

And significant alterations to the roads near the island at Birmingham Business Park are expected to start in August/September.

Fiona Woolston, engagement manager for contractor LMJV, had outlined the steps to minimise disruption.

"The plan for all the bridges is the structures of them will all be built off-site and what will happen is that we will bring them in on our trucks.

"They're essentially like giant Lego bricks, they'll be cast off site and they'll be brought in ... that removes all the things that you were concerned about [with] additional traffic in the area."

 
Artist's concept of bridge planned for the M42. Image from HS2's latest programme update.
Artist's concept of bridge planned for the M42. Image from HS2's latest programme update.

She added that the existing road network would remain open while changes were made near the business park.

One of the biggest concerns has been the plan to use Hall Meadow Road, at Balsall Common, as a haul route - which would see hundreds of lorries travelling the road each day.

Sheila Cooper, from neighbouring Berkswell, had voiced concern that the constant flow of HGVs would generate significant air pollution.

"It seems just so immoral that this is going to happen," she said. "I just cannot imagine what it's going to be like for people living right on top of it. It's beyond my comprehension."

Another resident, who lives nearby, said the plans seemed to be treated as "a fait accompli."

"I'm not too sure whether it's widely known ... just how much of an impact it's likely to have on us," he added.

Hall Meadow Road, in Balsall Common. Photo from Google Street View.
Hall Meadow Road, in Balsall Common.

Jonathan Lord, from HS2 Ltd, suggested a planning application for Hall Meadow Road was set to be submitted later in the year and as "a good neighbour" the company would liaise with local residents.

Cllr Tony Dicicco (Con, Meriden) said it was vital to minimise the impact "as much as possible."

Other elements of the scheme are still shrouded in uncertainty, with proposals for the A45, near to Bickenhill Recycling Centre, being finalised.

Ms Cooper feared the work there would add to congestion at an already "horrendous" location.

 

Andy de Bell, from Balfour Beatty Vinci, another of HS2's contractors, said: "The works to bring the line through there are a significant engineering undertaking and that will cause some disruption in the area.

"The impact itself will be dictated by the final design."

A further report on the HS2 highways works is set to go to Cllr Ted Richards, the council's cabinet member for transport and highways, next week.