M42 junction revamp could pose danger to walkers, says councillor
PLANS to tackle congestion at one of the country’s busiest motorway junctions could mean longer, more dangerous routes for walkers, Solihull Council has been warned.
Borough resident and parish councillor Richard Lloyd told a full council meeting that the £282 million project, designed to ease traffic at Junction 6 of the M42, would impact on the local network of public footpaths.
He claims a new link road would cut across a number of existing footpaths and new routes could see people forced to walk alongside busy highways.
Mr Lloyd said he would want to see a number of changes to the proposals to ensure the safety and convenience of those on foot was not put “at jeopardy”.
He urged councillors to press the issue in its representations to Highways England, which is responsible for the works.
The council stressed that changes had not been finalised and said its officers were in discussions with the agency.
“The scheme is, of course, very welcome,” said Mr Lloyd.
“We all know the problems at Junction 6 and the scheme looks very good in terms of resolving those issues.
“But [the council] does have in place a policy to support walking because of its great benefits on health and wellbeing.
“The proposed replacements are considerably less convenient and less attractive and indeed they are more hazardous because they run alongside the main roads, they are sharing routes with cyclists.”
He added: “This is a quarter of a billion pound scheme, so I think that a tiny percentage of that cost should be used for, not increasing public access, just preserving public access for walkers.”
Other residents have also complained to Highways England and called for assurances that crossings would be provided.
Councillor Ted Richards, Solihull Council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, acknowledged that the impact on pedestrians and cyclists had been a “common theme” during a recent series of public consultation events.
“Following analysis of the feedback, Highways England intend to hold a site review and walk-over visit with any interested groups and council officers to walk all of these routes.”
The project was devised amid concerns about regular delays at the junction which provides access to Birmingham Airport, the NEC and Birmingham Business Park.
The works are due to get under way in early 2020 and the new road network would open in 2023.