Birmingham city centre has been surrounded by seemingly endless roadworks making motorists' lives a misery.
With several major traffic schemes all talking places at once in and around Birmingham city centre – and with more to come – you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in the middle of a man-made travel destination called the Great Barrier Grief.
To illustrate the point, we tried driving across the city to capture the scenes from some of the biggest projects around.
Even when the roads were relatively quiet with no major jams the exercise took half a day, a task not made any easier by having the dilemma of trying to park safely near to each site.
In March this year, organised of the Birmingham International Marathon gave up the ghost - and cancelled this year's run.
The Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Half Marathon will still be held on Sunday, October 14
New this month
Monday, September 3 saw the start of a year-long total shutdown of Paradise Queensway, the link road between Summer Row and Suffolk Street Queensway next to the £700 million redevelopment of Paradise
Traffic in the area on the first day of the closure was less busy than anticipated.
But a combination of more autumnal weather, schools and universities going back and the big events could soon spark gridlock in the event of a crash or breakdown affecting one of the city’s key routes at the wrong time.
The Conservative Party Conference from September 30 to October 3 will put a further squeeze on the area around the ICC from September 24 to October 5, for example.
There is no specified reopening date set for Paradise Queensway other than 'Summer 2019'.
What's happening in the future?
And the return of the German market from November 15 as part of the build-up to Christmas will bring its own added pressure either through closures and/or extra visitors.
And there are more big schemes to come.
One will be in the Iron Lane area of Stechford, close to where the River Cole and the outer circle A4040 bus route combine to create a notorious bottleneck on the way from Yardley to Bromford.
The city council is waiting for the outcome of June’s Public Local inquiry to be made in October / November 2018.
Even if favourable news means the Iron Lane works begin as planned in January 2019 – they won’t be finished until the summer of 2020.
In all cases, the advice is to allow extra time for journeys and to seek alternatives – public transport, cycling or walking.
East Birmingham will also be hit soon with three major transport projects – the Metro along Bordesley Green, Sprint along Coventry Road and HS2 works on top.
The city council’s A-Z list of roadworks and closures can be found here – and currently begin with tree pruning on Arkley Grove in Hall Green (ends September 9) and ends with York Road for the Kings Heath Street Festival (also September 9).
To work out how to get somewhere on public transport use the journey planner website here
Who is doing the work?
Amey is the service provider responsible for maintaining and managing Birmingham’s highway infrastructure, including 2,500km of road network, nearly 100,000 street lights, 76,000 trees and over 850 highway structures and bridges across the city.
City council schemes have red barriers.
This has recently included remodelling the four corners of the crossroads at Hill Street and Navigation Street.
The work took nine months to complete.
But the Alliance's main four-year project is to extend the Midland Metro from Stephenson Street to Hagley Road, Five Ways in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Ongoing major roadworks include: Paradise Queensway and lower Broad Street
These two connected major routes at the heart of the city are now both totally closed.
Paradiise Queensway will be closed for a year (though the A38 Queensway tunner remains open in both directions).
For the alternative routes you must know to find the city’s big attractions click here – our report also includes the chance to watch our essential video to see how to get round Birmingham’s new city centre road network.
Partly closed between Islington Row Middleway (itself under siege) and Bishopsgate Street.
This work is ongoing until January 6, 2020 and is currently making access to the recently remodelled Shell petrol station awkward at best.
George Road is also currently closed where it meets Islington Row Middleway.
At the same time, other works are also taking place on Islington Row Middleway between George Road and Bath Row.
Here, a crossroads is being created from a former subway island.
We illustrated this scene back in April when the subways were about to disappear.
The new landscape was so vast, it looked like a scene from Mars.
The underpasses have now all been filled in with red soil and the old look consigned to urban history beneath tarmac.
The work also includes plans to create pedestrian crossings on Dartmouth Middleway and Lawley Middleway.
There have been long queues of traffic in both directions for months at peak time and queues are common even when it's quiet.
A38 Bristol Road cycle route
This route will provide 4km of two-way, fully segregated cycleway along the A38, linking Selly Oak and the University of Birmingham with the city It will connect with the existing cycle facilities on Hurst Street, running along Kent Street, Wrentham Street and onto Bristol Street.
From Bristol Road, the route will run alongside the pedestrian footway, before crossing into the wide central reservation where a dedicated track will run to Edgbaston Park Road.
The side-effect of keeping cyclists safe here is that a once-green reservation is disappearing beneath more hard core.
A further section next to the footway then links the route to existing cycle facilities on Selly Oak New Road.
The city council says: “Improvements to the junctions at Belgrave Middleway and Priory Road will benefit pedestrians as well as cyclists.
“Construction of the route is in phases. All dates are approximate and may be affected by site conditions.”
A sign on Edgbaston Park Road says the work on the central reservation from Selly Oak to Pavenham Drive would take four months from May 4.
Four months later they are still ongoing, though the city council’s website says the completion date is ‘September 2018’.
To try to minimise disruption, the Birmingham's latest temporary signals at the Belgrave Interanchange were wi-fi connected to the city's traffic control rooms.
Work to complete the Belgrave Interchange junction should have been completed in July while the Bristol Street section will be developed from September through to November.
Wrentham Street to Hurst Street will be underway from November til Jaunary, while work at the Bristol Road / Priory Road junction will be from October until January.
Meanwhile, A34 cycle route improvements in Aston began on May 8, 2018 and have an expected completion date of May 7, 2019.
The Digbeth B4100 to Moat Lane B4100 (opposite Digbeth Police Station) has been closed ‘to address congestion issues affecting bus operations and to improve the punctuality of bus services around Moor Street Queensway'.
Barriers were originally put in place for a trial period of four weeks but the road has been permanently closed all year.
Albeit with temporary barriers which make the junction look something of a mess while sending motorists all the way round the Birmingham Coach Station if they want to double back towards Selfridges.
Perhaps less is more... by closing some roads, counter-intuitively perhaps, it could be possible to ease jams by restricting the number of drivers likely to be going there because there's no way through.
Planners will doubtless be hoping that is the effect around Paradise Queensway for the next year.
Jobs affecting Ladywell Walk Pershore Street, Station Street, Ladywell Walk, Wrottesley Street, Hurst Street, Thorp Street and Dudley Street in various ways were expected to last for 18 months from October 4, 2017.
Hurst Street itself has been closed off for exactly three years.
The barriers went up there on September 7, 2015.
Last year, traffic on Hill Street was reversed so that drivers could only go downhill.
On September 3, 2018, the parallel Brunel Street was also 'reversed' so that drivers could only go uphill.
If you drive up Brunel Street now, you can only go as far as Swallow Street.
You then have to turn right and then head down Hill Street.
It means means that this area has now effectively become an island with no access to or from Suffolk Street Queensway, other than to leave the area via the existing sliproad next to the Orion Building on Navigation Street.
In Northfield, works around Wakeford Road began on June 4, 2018. They have no definitive end date but are expected to last 18 months.