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Go-ahead for safety work; WALSALL: Support for pounds 16m improvements to ring road.

Byline: By Steve Johnson

DELIGHTED business chiefs today welcomed the news that a council has been given the green light to make congestion-busting improvements to its ring road.

Walsall Council has finally been given the go-ahead to press on with the pounds 16 million scheme, which will see work to improve safety and cut traffic on the borough's ring road.

The announcement ends a nine-month wait by Walsall highway's officers for final confirmation from the Department for Transport that the Town Centre Transport Package could go ahead.

Keith Stanley, Walsall director of Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said the news was a huge boost to businesses in the town.

He said: "The business community has been campaigning long and hard for the ring road, which is a key element in the rebirth of Walsall town centre.

"The Chamber of Commerce enlisted the support of our local MPs in lobbying for the work to go ahead and we now look forward to rapid progress on easing the congestion that is threatening to strangle enterprise in the borough."

Coun Marco Longhi, cabinet member for environment, said: "This is fantastic news and I'm delighted we have finally secured the funding for this key project to unlock our borough's full potential.

"The TCTP is crucial to securing Walsall's future regeneration, as well as improving road safety and providing much better conditions for all road users. It is an integral part of the long-term investment in our borough. "

The council had submitted all the necessary paperwork for the project in May last year and expected final approval for the scheme last summer.

The secretary of state gave his backing to the project after considering the evidence presented at a public inquiry in 2004, announcing that it was in the public interest to allow the project to go ahead.

The project will widen the road between Pleck Road and the Arboretum Roundabout, improve traffic light-controlled junctions on major crossings and modify junctions to help all transport users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

The plan aims to reduce rat runs on inappropriate routes and cut accidents on the highway network, as well as improve the environment for communities along the route.

The scheme will also improve junctions adjacent to the Manor Hospital, which has 3,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of visitor trips each year, as well as accident and emergency traffic.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 9, 2006
Words:395
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