'Chaos' predicted as Birmingham's A38 tunnels close for six weeks

The tunnels New lighting, fire escapes and fireproofing will be added to the tunnels during the work

Related Stories

Birmingham's main city centre tunnels have closed for six weeks to allow the first major work in their 40-year history to be carried out.

The St Chad's and Queensway tunnels, on the A38 between St Chad's Cathedral and The Mailbox, shut at 22:00 BST.

Steve Brittan, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce's president, has warned it will cause "chaos" in the city centre.

The tunnels, which are due to reopen at 06:00 on 2 September, will also shut for six weeks for more work next year.

'Horrendous' traffic

Over the next six weeks, nearly 1,000 new lights will be installed in the tunnels and about 21,000 sq m of fire protection will be added to the walls and ceiling of the tunnels.

Engineers said they will also improve fire escapes and the general appearance of the tunnels.

Amey, which is carrying out the work on behalf of Birmingham City Council, said it looked at various options of how to carry out the work and shutting the tunnels completely for six weeks was the cheapest.

It said traffic levels were usually up to 20% lighter during the school summer holidays, which start in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Mr Brittan said having the two tunnels closed for the full six weeks would make traffic "horrendous".

He said he would boycott the city centre while the work was being carried out and urged other drivers to do the same to alleviate congestion problems.

Broad Street closure

The tunnels have already been shut overnight for four weeks and will close during the night again for two weeks after the complete closure.

Edgbaston councillor Deirdre Alden said she had found out via a question in a committee meeting - and not through the information released by the council and Amey - that part of Broad Street would also be shut while the work was carried out.

Tunnels closure

Lorry and car going through one of the tunnels

Ms Alden, a Conservative councillor, said the inbound part of the road between Paradise Circus and the Hyatt Hotel would be shut to cars over the six weeks although buses and taxis would still be allowed through.

"It's going to be mayhem in parts of the city centre," she said.

"I can understand them not wanting Paradise Circus to take any extra traffic, but this is going to make things worse."

Along with road diversions, extra measures have been put in place by Amey, National Express and Centro to encourage drivers not to come into the city centre.

A 500-space park-and-ride site has been set up at Birmingham City University's Perry Barr campus, extra buses are being put on and three "bike trains" are being set up to allow people to cycle in large groups into the city.

The refurbishment of the tunnels is being paid for as part of the city council's 25-year £2.7bn contract with Amey to maintain Birmingham's roads, footpaths, bridges, tunnels, street lighting and traffic control systems.

Amey has not said exactly what proportion of that is being spent on the tunnels.

Next year, work will concentrate on electrics within the tunnels.

The council and Amey have set up a website giving details of the tunnel closures.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country

Weather

Birmingham

13 °C 5 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    10:30: Trader failed to disclose £90k earnings Express and Star

    A father-of-two wrongly claimed more than £30,000 in benefits after failing to disclose that he had earned more than £90,000 from trading in horses and cars, a court heard.

     
  2.  
    10:13: Fine for refusing blind woman David Lumb BBC News, West Midlands

    A taxi driver has been fined £2,100 for refusing to carry a blind woman and her guide dog.

    Shahzad Ahmad, from Hodge Hill in Birmingham, claimed his six-seater people carrier was not big enough to take Sue Smith's Labrador, Sonny (pictured together here).

    Sue Smith and Sonny

    It is an offence for a taxi driver not to take a blind person and their guide dog unless they have a medical exemption certificate for an allergy.

     
  3.  
    09:56: News on the hour Steve Hermon Journalist, BBC WM

    Tesco is being accused of poor corporate citizenship over fears that plans for a new store in Wolverhampton could be cancelled.

    More on this and other stories in our 10:00 bulletin.

     
  4.  
    09:46: 'Crude' cutbacks for police Amy Cole Reporter, Midlands Today

    "Crude, inequitable and unfair" - that's how the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands described funding cuts which will see the region's force miss out on a further £5m on top of the £18m he said the force had expected.

    David Jamieson said the cuts meant the force would need to find savings topping £100m again after previously slashing £120m since 2010.

    PCC David Jamieson

    Forecasts show the officer numbers serving in 2016/17 will be around 6,765 compared to 8,835 in 2010/11.

     
  5.  
    09:32: Old bus depot blaze Caroline Gall BBC News

    More than 30 firefighters tackled a "severe" fire at what is believed to be a former bus depot opposite Birmingham City Football Club last night.

    Crews were called to the site on Coventry Road that now contains pallets and paper at 19:45 GMT, West Midlands Fire Service said.

     
  6.  
    09:11: 'Lucky escape' after lamppost smash Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    A 17-year-old driver escaped with a head and minor arm injuries after his car overturned in a smash into a lamppost in Brierley Hill last night.

    The crash happened at the junction of Farndale Close and Hillfields Road at 22:05 and left the car with this damage.

    The damage to the car

    The driver was treated and taken to Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, on a stretcher and wearing a neck collar.

     
  7.  
    08:58: News on the hour Steve Hermon Journalist, BBC WM

    We hear from the organiser of a candle-lit vigil in Birmingham for the 132 children and 9 staff who were murdered on Tuesday in Peshawar.

    Listen live to our 09:00 bulletin.

     
  8.  
    08:44: Castle Bromwich road closed BBC WM

    Coleshill Road in Castle Bromwich is closed and there is slow traffic in both directions near The Fox and Goose because of a multi-vehicle accident - one of the vehicles has overturned.

    Police are directing traffic, warns BBC Travel.

     
  9.  
    08:31: Black Friday lessened footfall drop Birmingham Post

    The chaos of Black Friday gave Birmingham's high street retailers a much-needed boost, according to new figures, but the region as a whole suffered a drop in footfall over the past three months

     
  10.  
    08:19: Pakistan school attacks vigil Caroline Gall BBC News

    Two events have been held in Birmingham to remember the 141 people, mostly children, killed in a Taliban attack at a school in Pakistan.

    A prayer service was held at Birmingham Central Mosque and about 80 to 100 people gathered in the city centre for a candlelight vigil.

    Vigil. About 80 to 100 people gathered in the city centre from 19:00 GMT

    Shah Jehan from Wolverhampton, said it was "the darkest moment in my life" when he learnt his cousins were dead.

     
  11.  
    08:02: Today's forecast Charlie Slater Weather Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    Exceptionally mild in the West Midlands today with highs of 14C (57F) but there are plenty of showers around and it'll be windy too.

    Check out the outlook for the next few days here.

     
  12.  
    08:00: Good morning Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    Another mild morning today. I'm back in the BBC WM newsroom bringing you today's news, sport, travel and weather.

    Get in touch with us during the day about our updates over email, Twitter or Facebook.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • HobbitHobbit review

    Nicholas Barber asks whether The Battle of the Five Armies is worthwhile or unnecessary

Programmes

  • An ECG (electrocardiogram)Click Watch

    The wearable technology which could allow you to pay for goods with your heartbeat

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.