Lichfield southern bypass: final phase
Work is continuing on the construction of the final section of Lichfield’s southern bypass – an essential part of the city’s infrastructure to support its future growth.
The £17.5million scheme will connect the A5127 Birmingham Road with the A5206 London Road. It involves building an underpass beneath the Cross City railway line.
The railway bridge and the connection to Birmingham Road roundabout is being funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and the Government. The remaining 600 metre stretch is being funded by Persimmon Homes. Staffordshire County Council, Persimmon Homes and Amey are working together to deliver this project.
In October 2017, the Department for Transport announced £5 million would be allocated to the scheme. The GBSLEP has allocated £2.3m of its Growth Deal funding to the project.
The work is being done in such a way that a restored Lichfield canal could also pass under the Cross City Line, boosting tourism in the area. While the new canal is not being constructed at this stage, the project does make considerable provision for canal construction once the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust is in a position to start this work. In addition to a retaining wall (at the narrow point between the gardens of properties on Wordsworth Close and Marsh Lane), two new bridges will be constructed over the future path of the canal.
The new road will link with a new housing development and new primary school in addition to easing congestion in the city centre and in particular around the railway station.
Why has the route been chosen?
While other options were considered, this route is supported by the county council, the GBSLEP, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP and the district council. It will also enable the canal restoration project to happen.
Is there any impact on the environment?
This scheme will not have a significant effect on the environment – there are no sensitive areas of land or watercourses affected. Furthermore it will facilitate construction of a new section of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal which is a locally important heritage asset.
We understand that the construction work will affect the residents living nearby but we will do what we can to reduce the impact of the works. The project will be registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme and we will follow their Code of Considerate Practice.
Construction Work During Covid 19
Construction work is continuing on the scheme in accordance with Government regulations and guidance including social distancing in the workplace.
A new rail-over road bridge has been built to allow the new section of road to pass under the Cross City railway line. Construction of this bridge started in Autumn 2019 which enabled the bridge deck to be moved into position over the Christmas/New year period 2019/20.
A short section of road is currently being constructed under the bridge from the A5127 Birmingham Road. This section of the work will be completed later in summer 2020 and will connect to the developer funded section of the road leading up to the A5206 London Road and the A51 Tamworth Road.
Ballast retaining structures are currently being built close to the bridge deck that was installed over the Christmas period. This work adjacent to the railway line is currently being undertaken during night-time railway possessions starting late on Saturday nights continuing through early Sunday mornings.
These works on the railway have not gone as smoothly as planned. The method of working has needed to be changed and progress has been slower than predicted. This revised technique means that the work will involve more noise and vibration than we were anticipating but we will do everything we can to restrict these impacts and their durations. At present we are not able to confirm the number of shifts that will be required to complete the work.
The developer-funded section, to join the bridge site to London Road, is due to commence on 13 July 2020 and to continue for just over a year. Initial works, from mid-July, will be removal of topsoil and preliminary works to the new buried retaining wall which in future will form one side of the proposed canal.
What will the impact be on road users?
Impact on road users for the bridge construction contract should be minimal as the majority of work is taking place off current roads. Some traffic management will be needed when the new road is connected to Birmingham Road roundabout but this will be for a short duration.
While the spine road is being constructed, Persimmon Homes will be building new houses in the adjacent development areas. Once access below the new bridge is available, Vehicles working on the spine road will enter and exit the site via Birmingham Road roundabout and vehicles working on the housing development will use the London Road entrance.
Unfortunately, due to space constraints on site, it will be necessary to close the informal 'dog-walking' route from Wordsworth Close to London Road.
For the spine road, work is programmed to affect the highway around the London Road/Upper St John Street/Tamworth Road junction between October this year and March 2021. Further detail will be advertised closer to the time.
Why is the road necessary?
There will be beneficial impacts in terms of reductions in delays on the wider local road network. Linking locally strategic roads enables the existing network to operate more efficiently and will increase use of the completed sections of bypass. Traffic impacting on the historic centre of the city and rail station will be re-allocate to the bypass. This will enable new bus, walking and cycling facilities to be created.