Video footage has been released showing the first major structure for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension being demolished in a major step forward for the biggest light rail project in the UK.
The project is developing at pace, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the redundant railway bridge in Tipton, located on the disused South Staffordshire Railway line, now removed by the construction team for the much-anticipated route.
A new structure will be built later next year as construction continues to move forward. Structural specialists are also currently hard at work assessing and finalising details for the replacement of existing structures across Sandwell and Dudley.
Coming down. The disused railway bridge at Tipton will be replaced with a modern structure to carry trams on the new Wednesdbury to Brierley Hill Metro route
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Infrastructure projects, such as the building of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro route, are critical to our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as they help to generate money for the local economy and secure and create local jobs for local people.
"Because of this I am determined we press ahead with the new Metro line for the Black Country, and it is great to see another key milestone reached.
"The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill route will be a huge connectivity boost for the people of Dudley and Sandwell, and it also forms a key part of our wider, ambitious, plans for the metro network across the whole West Midlands."
Councillor Jackie Taylor, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for sustainable transport, added: "It is impressive how speedily the team have been able to remove this structure, all whilst minimising disruption to local people as journeys begin to increase following the easing of lockdown restrictions. We encourage people to continue to consider walking or cycling to their destination while these works are wrapped up and restrictions lifted."
Earlier in the summer commuters were asked to plan their journeys as the works involved a partial closure of the highway and footpath along Sedgley Road East. Due to these works now being close to completion this closure is expected to be lifted before the end of the six weeks holiday.
David Lea, Structures Discipline Design Lead at the Midland Metro Alliance, the organisation designing and constructing the route on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which owns the West Midlands Metro, said: “The carefully planned, safe and efficient removal of the bridge deck and abutments at Sedgley Road marks an important milestone for the project, the first of many as we work to prepare the route for the new Metro extension.
"This has also been achieved with sustainability in mind as many of the materials recovered during the demolition will be recycled. The design team are hard at work finalising details for the replacement structure as well as for many others along the route.
"It is tremendously exciting to see years of design effort come to life on site, knowing that what is constructed now will be in place for years to come and provide generations with improved connectivity.”
The Midlands Metro Alliance is building a number of new tram routes over the coming decade for TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension will boost public transport in the Black Country, providing much-needed links to the existing heavy and light rail networks, and helping to connect people to education, training and career opportunities further afield in the West Midlands.
The extension will also play its part in helping to regenerate the Sandwell, Dudley and Brierley Hill areas, making it more attractive to investors and providing easy access to the Merry Hill shopping centre and the region’s many and varied attractions via public transport. Once up and running there will be up to 17 new stops and the new system will also reduce journey times when compared to travelling by car.
Works are taking place across the Sandwell and Dudley boroughs throughout 2020 and residents and businesses are being urged to keep up to date with the works taking place in their area by visiting www.metroalliance.co.uk