A £27 million range of highway improvements which includes the removal of the Perry Barr flyover will mean 'two years of chaos' for residents, it has been claimed.
But the council has asked residents to be patient if the proposals are passed, adding that the transformational benefits to the region will be 'phenomenal'.
A set of proposals for a range of infrastructure improvements at Perry Barr are set to go before cabinet on Tuesday, February 12, with the £27.1 million project including the removal of the A34 flyover, the retention of the A34 underpass and the replacement of the A34/A4040 roundabout with a four-arm traffic signal junction.
The proposals would also include a range of new cycling routes, improved footpaths, removal of subways and landscape improvements.
What happens if the plans are passed?
If passed the plans would go out to a public consultation in the spring, though more than 4,000 residents have already opposed the idea via online and paper petitions.
The council says the recommended scheme was chosen in favour of two others - one of which would have retained the flyover - because it will see the least amount of disruption to local residents in the years leading up to the Commonwealth Games .
However, speaking after the announcement today (February 5), Councillor Jon Hunt said that he believed the proposals would lead to 'huge traffic jams and congestion'.
“This proposal means two years of chaos in north west Birmingham while the flyover removal takes place," he said.
Plans branded as 'utter madness'
"This will be followed by the installation of two traffic light junctions – one at One Stop and one at Birchfield – and I very much doubt will be up to the job. All the evidence is that trying to manage the merger of major routes by means of traffic lights causes huge traffic jams and congestion.
“This is utter madness and all the evidence we have is that it is driven by value judgements made by a small number of individuals, not representing the local community, that they do not like the look of the flyover, that it is some kind of eyesore.
“The road plans going to Cabinet next week are rigged to make flyover retention look bad. Of course the flyover will not work if the traffic passing under it is made to share a tiny roundabout. There are alternatives as I have demonstrated in recent weeks, especially as the land to the east of the flyover is being cleared and has no specific purpose in the run up to the Commonwealth Games.
“So far more than 4,000 people have signed petitions objecting to removal of the flyover. I expect those numbers to increase substantially now that detailed plans have been published.
“Frankly this obsession with removing the flyover is undermining the image of the Commonwealth Games. It is unnecessary and unnecessarily expensive.”
The idea is part of the £523m regeneration of Perry Barr which includes the construction of more than 1,400 homes for the Athletes Village, which will be turned into residential housing after the Games.
Full proposals for the area include:
- Removing the Birchfield roundabout and replacing it with a traffic signals crossroad junction.
- Introducing traffic signals on four arms of the junction to replace the current roundabout junction arrangement.
- Replacing the existing pedestrian subways and footbridge at the junction with toucan crossing facilities.
- Cycle track provision on the A34 eastern footway.
- Removing of general traffic from the section of the A453 fronting the former Birmingham City University site, which is earmarked to become the new Athletes Village. This section of Aldridge Road would become a public realm area integrated into the village.
- Removal of the A34 Perry Barr flyover.
- New all movement traffic signal at the A34/A453.
- Provision of bus lanes on both sides of the A34 and on the A453 approach to the A34.
- Provision of a cycle track on the eastern side of the A34 and on the western side from One Stop northbound.
- Extension of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution route from Heathfield Road to Perry Barr centre on the eastern side of the A34.
If passed, the scheme will be funded largely through a £24.7 million grant from government, with the remainder a mixture of borrowing and money from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.
What do transport chiefs say?
Speaking at the announcement Cllr Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, asked residents to be patient in the short-term in exchange for a host of long-term benefits.
"Next Tuesday we’ll be seeking cabinet approval to remove the A34 flyover next to One Stop and also cap the Birchfield Island," he said.
"We have to transform the way people move about in this city, and we have to prioritise public transport.
"The Commonwealth Games is a catalyst for improving the way people move about in the city, but what’s more important than delivering the Games is the legacy that they leave behind.
"Ultimately if we don’t change the way that people move about in this city we’ll still have the high and illegal levels of air quality, which will get higher with the increasing population by 2031/32.
"I understand and appreciate the concerns of local residents, and we’re going to do our best to mitigate the short term disruption.
"But the long term transformational benefits for those that live in Perry Barr, for those that travel through Perry Barr, will be phenomenal.
"And I ask residents to be patient with us, and look forward to what will be a fantastic neighbourhood with a fantastic train station, a bus interchange next door, quality housing in a low traffic neighbourhood right opposite.
"People will be moving through Perry Barr swifter, with good connectivity and less congestion."