The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, has today (Thursday August 3) announced the launch of an action plan aimed at combatting congestion on key regional roads.
Andy Street has committed to a step change in investment in public transport infrastructure to reduce the region’s dependence on cars.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has already secured £4.4 billion from Government to improve connections to HS2.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and newly appointed director of network resilience Anne Shaw
In the shorter term, work is taking place to tackle congestion hotspots across the region and ensure there is greater coordination to avoid disruption.
To continue this work, Anne Shaw will join the WMCA as director of network resilience.
Anne will work with Highways England, Network Rail, the Department for Transport, local authorities and other key players to ensure transport construction works are coordinated and congestion tackled.
This focuses on what is known as the Key Route Network, a number of important non-motorway roads across the region for which the Mayor has responsibility.
The WMCA recently secured £5.8m of Government funding through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to tackle congestion at ten locations across the West Midlands.
This investment includes the use of ‘intelligent’ traffic signal technology which will self-adjust to traffic conditions and which will be in operation by April 2018.
The WMCA has already submitted a request for over £40m of further funding to tackle additional congestion hot spots which, if successful, will enable the delivery of more than £90m of investment.
The Mayor said: “It is no secret that we have a major issue with congestion in the West Midlands, a situation which is brought into even sharper focus when we have major infrastructure repairs or improvements that require roads and junctions to be closed.
“Clearly, the long-term approach has to involve moving people out of cars and this will require a revolution in investment in rail, buses, trams and cycling. Cllr Roger Lawrence’s work for the WMCA on this as transport lead has been outstanding.
“But this will take many years to fully deliver. In the meantime, this congestion busting action plan will take simple but effective steps to overcome some of the issues that rightly frustrate commuters.
“The number one point of frustration tends to be a lack of coordination. At times roadworks appear badly planned and poorly communicated and this is sometimes a fair criticism.
“That’s what this action plan will seek to solve immediately as we know future investments in motorway enhancement and HS2 will put even more pressure on the road network.
“We’re also working to secure further money from Government to pay for improvements on particular blackspots where traffic gets snarled up every day. Although we secured almost £6m in the last round, this is only the start and we will continue to press the case for more funding.”
Anne will join the WMCA next month from Birmingham City Council where she is currently assistant director of transport. She has 26 years’ experience working closely with many of the partners and stakeholders involved in the region’s transport.
She said: “The next five years promise to be challenging ones for our region as the investment will inevitably mean disruption for the public which we need to manage really carefully.
“Local authorities and other agencies need to work more strategically to both tackle congestion and minimise the impact of work. I am convinced there is the will to do this and look forward to playing my part.”