Highways England has announced the preferred route for a major improvement scheme on the M42.
The £282M scheme in Solihull, West Midlands, is designed to improve junction 6 of the M42, benefitting local residents, businesses and road users.
The scheme has been identified and approved following a seven-week consultation period on three options. Highways England is taking forward a modified version of Option 1 as the preferred route for M42 junction 6.
The consultation has highlighted a problem around Bickenhill, and a route modification has therefore been employed allowing the new road to avoid local business in the area and reduce the effect on the Bickenhill Meadows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The preferred route will see a new 2.4km dual carriageway link road – aligned to the west of Bickenhill – between the A45 Clock Interchange and a new junction on the M42 south of junction 6 located north of Solihull Road.
There are also plans to improve traffic flow under the scheme, with a well-known bottleneck at a roundabout eased by providing dedicated left turn links between the M42 and A45 at the NEC.
Additionally, Highways England will be undertaking improvements to the M42 junction 6 roundabout, Clock Interchange and the A45 between the two junctions, in order to ensure the two junctions can work together going forward and minimise the effect on the A45.
Construction is expected to start in 2020 following further public consultation, and completion is due in 2023.
Highways England senior project manager, Jonathan Pizzey, said: “The recent consultation was a great way to ensure that we heard the opinions of local residents and businesses in the area and also for them to have a say in the project as it moves forward.
“This is a vital scheme which will support economic growth in the area and beyond. It will also improve access to HS2, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham Airport and future developments such as the UK Central development area.”
Birmingham International Airport and the UK Urban Growth Company are also backing Option 1.
Birmingham Airport chief operating officer, David Winstanley, said: “We welcome Highways England’s decision to progress the Option 1 scheme for improvements to junction 6 of the M42. This junction is a critical part of the road network which provides access to many of the region’s biggest employers but is currently heavily congested.
“It is therefore vital that better access is provided to ease current congestion and cater for the future growth of both Birmingham Airport and the surrounding UK Central area. We will continue to work with Highways England to ensure that our emerging master plan aligns with the scheme so that passengers using Birmingham Airport in years to come benefit from the improvements.”