Traffic tsar appointed to assist Mayor in tackling road congestion

Anne Shaw and Andy Street

The West Midlands Combined Authority has appointed a new director to assist the region’s Mayor, Andy Street, in tackling public transport improvements.

Anne Shaw is joining the WMCA as director of network resilience and will work with the Mayor to tackle congestion issues on the region’s roads.

Mr Street has said he is committed to a step change in investment in public transport infrastructure to reduce the region’s dependence on cars. The WMCA has already secured £4.4bn from Government to improve connections to HS2.

In the shorter term, work is taking place to tackle congestion hotspots across the region and ensure there is greater coordination to avoid disruption.

Ms Shaw will work with Highways England, Network Rail, the Department for Transport, local authorities and other key players to ensure transport works are coordinated and congestion tackled.

This focuses on what is known as the Key Route Network, a number of important non-motorway roads across the region for which the Mayor has responsibility.

The WMCA recently secured £5.8m of Government funding through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to tackle congestion at ten locations across the West Midlands (see below). This investment includes the use of ‘intelligent’ traffic signal technology, which will self-adjust to traffic conditions and which will be in operation by April 2018.

The WMCA has also submitted a request for over £40m of additional funding to tackle other congestion hot spots which, if successful, could unlock more than £90m of investment.

Mr Street said: “It is no secret that we have a major issue with congestion in the West Midlands, a situation which is brought into even sharper focus when we have major infrastructure repairs or enhancement which require roads and junctions to be closed.

“Clearly, the long-term approach has to involve moving people out of cars and this will require a revolution in investment in rail, buses, trams and cycling. But this will take many years to fully deliver.

“In the meantime, this congestion-busting action plan will take simple but effective steps to overcome some of the issues that rightly frustrate commuters.”

Ms Shaw, who joins the authority next month, said: “The next five years promise to be challenging ones for our region as the investment will inevitably mean disruption for the public which we need to manage really carefully.

“Local authorities and other agencies need to work more strategically to both tackle congestion and minimise the impact of work. I am convinced there is the will to do this and look forward to playing my part.”

The schemes awarded funding in the first round of the National Productivity Investment Fund were:

·         Phase one of the Bromford gyratory scheme (£569,000)
·         Holloway Circus (£700,000)
·         Journey time reliability to city growth area (£530,000)
·         Bus lane enforcement (£98,000)
·         Keeping Coventry Moving (£700,000)
·         Brierley Hill Strategic Centre (£660,000)
·         A34 Birmingham Road/A4041 Queslett Road and Newton Road (£273,000)
·         Solihull Bridge five-year programme (£600,000) and A34 Stratford Road Growth Corridor (£616,500)
·         A461 Eastern Opportunity Area (£960,000)