The progress of the proposed £29 million A457 Dudley Road Highway “Improvement” scheme (aka widening scheme) has taken an interesting turn in the last couple of months.

Birmingham City Council was poised to approve a report at its cabinet meeting on 21st April which would have given the go ahead for this damaging dual carriageway scheme. So imagine our surprise and relief when the report was withdrawn from the agenda at short notice with no official explanation. We understand from some councillors that this was to enable a review of the scheme to be undertaken because of concerns which we and others raised just before the meeting.

Before the meeting, we pointed out to councillors that the scheme contradicts the City Council’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency which includes the aim of cutting carbon emissions to become carbon neutral by 2030. It also contradicts a number of key council policies on transport and planning and undermines the council’s Clean Air Strategy. In short, it’s a dinosaur scheme which seems to have been taken straight from the 1970s.

Pandemic pressures
In May 2019, the council issued the Emergency Birmingham Transport Plan which aims to introduce quick-win measures in response to COVID-19, such as pop-up cycle lanes for safer cycling and widened footways to allow safer social distancing. We very much welcome this plan. Unfortunately for the Dudley Road, the planned widening scheme will mean narrower footways which will make social distancing more difficult.

Take Action!
Given the above, we believe this damaging scheme cannot be justified and should be subject to a radical rethink, with serious consideration given to scrapping it altogether
. Please ask your local councillor to call for a thorough reiew of the justification for this scheme.

Below is a template email you can adapt for your own use

Dear Councillor

I welcome the city council’s Emergency Birmingham Transport Plan which commits to introduce temporary measures in response to COVID-19 such as wider pavements and pop-up cycle lanes to make walking and cycling safer. I am particularly pleased to see that it also includes a commitment to review all major schemes such as the A457 Dudley Road Highway Improvement Scheme to see if walking and cycling benefits can be maximised.

As you may be aware, the Dudley Road scheme will widen a 1.3km length of the A457 between Spring Hill roundabout and Summerfield Park to a dual carriageway. It will require the demolition of buildings, taking out trees and making pavements narrower in places. The latter will make social distancing more difficult. The widened road will lead to more traffic and increased emissions while deterring walking and cycling.

This scheme therefore contradicts the city council’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency which includes the aim of cutting carbon emissions to become carbon neutral by 2030, and undermines the Clean Air Strategy which has identified that cutting car traffic is the most effective way of reducing air pollution. It is also at odds with key policies in the Birmingham Transport Plan 2020 and Birmingham Connected. Given all the above, I would like to ask how this road widening scheme can still be justified?

I would ask you to call on Councillor Waseem Zaffar to undertake a radical review of this road widening scheme and question how it can still be justified given that it contradicts so many key council policies. Can you confirm that such a review will seriously consider the option of scrapping the road widening altogether?

I look forward to your reply.

There is more information about the Dudley Road scheme in one of our previous articles.
http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/what-we-do/issues-we-work-on/transport/dudley-road-improvements/

Detailed plans of the proposals and associated documents are on the Birmingham City Council website:
https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50082/transport_improvement_schemes/1799/dudley_road_transport_improvements/4