Highways England reveals preferred option for £282m motorway improvement scheme

Junction 6, M42

Highways England has revealed its preferred route for the £282m improvement to one of the most strategically significant motorway junctions in the whole of the West Midlands.

Following a seven-week consultation on three options, the agency has outlined which plan will be implemented for Junction 6 of the M42 near Solihull.

The junction is the main connection for the NEC complex and Birmingham Airport; as such it is one of the busiest interchanges in the whole of the region.

Of three options proposed, Highways England has said it intends to implement a revised version of Option 1 – the majority (64%) choice of local residents, businesses and road users.

The modification moves the route slightly closer to the south west corner of Bickenhill to avoid a business and reduce the impact on Bickenhill Meadows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The preferred route will see a new 1.5-mile dual carriageway link road – aligned to the west of Bickenhill – between the A45 Clock Interchange and a new junction on the M42 south of J6, located north of Solihull Road.

Jonathan Pizzey, senior project manager, Highways England, said: “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, Birmingham Airport and future developments such as the UK Central development area.”

The decision to progress Option 1 has also received the backing of Birmingham Airport and the UK Urban Growth Company.

David Winstanley, chief operating officer, Birmingham Airport, said: “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.”

Huw Rhys Lewis, managing director at UK Urban Growth Company, said the project would increase the resilience and reliability of the road network in the area and in turn, support economic growth.

As part of the scheme there are also plans to improve traffic flow at the roundabout by providing dedicated left turn links between the M42 and A45 at the NEC, and the north east side of the roundabout. This is intended to benefit motorists by reducing congestion and improving journey times around the junction, as well as access to and from the motorway.

Additionally, Highways England will be undertaking improvements to the J6 roundabout, Clock Interchange and the A45 between the two junctions, to ensure the two junctions work together and minimise the effect on the A45.

Highways England will now progress a detailed design phase after which, it will stage a further public consultation.

It is expected that this will take place in late 2017 or early 2018.

Construction is expected to start in 2020 and completion is due in 2023.