Plans revived for major Midlands link road

Made News

Plans are being revived for the possible construction of a major link road bypassing the M5 and M6 to the west of the Greater Birmingham conurbation.

Midlands Connect, the transport arm of the Midlands Engine, is looking at the so-called Western Strategic Route as a means of cutting congestion along the M5/M6 corridor.

The plan is similar to that which emerged in the late 1980s for the Western Orbital Route, which at the time was envisioned as one part of an M25-style ring road - along with the then Birmingham Northern Relief Road (now the M6 Toll) and M42 - circling Greater Birmingham and the Black Country.

Full details of the route of the new road have yet to be revealed - as have costings. However, Midlands Connect has labelled the new road as one of its transport priorities as it looks to ease the congestion which cripples the region’s roads on an almost daily basis.

The transport body said part of the reasoning behind the new road was to enable businesses in the region - especially those in the advanced manufacturing sector - to move their goods more freely and ease access to new markets.

In its 2018/19 transport priorities document, Midlands Connect states: “The Midlands motorway network is important to the national economy and the heart of the UK logistics industry, but daily congestion on the M5, M6 and M42 is holding back growth.

“The Government allocated Midlands Connect an extra £4m in the 2017 Autumn Budget to develop plans to create a more reliable, resilient Strategic Road Network around the West Midlands conurbation that can help to unlock new homes and jobs.

“We’re looking at how a new road linking the M5 and M6 to the west of Birmingham can support economic and housing growth.”

It is also looking at how to make the best use of the M6 Toll and is will be encouraging more motorists to use it during incidents as an alternative to congested routes.

Earlier this year, the chairman of Made in the Midlands, Lord Mike Whitby received assurances from the government that the Midlands Connect transport masterplan would be made a legislative priority.

Lord Whitby said that in order to capitalise on the Midlands’ economic strengths the region must be the beneficiary of devolution arrangements similar to those offered Midlands Connect’s counterpart in the North West, Transport for the North.