M42 junc­tion re­vamp could pose dan­ger to walk­ers, says coun­cil­lor

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - David Ir­win Coun­cil Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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