Highways England and the West Midlands metro mayor have pledged to cooperate to tackle congestion around the controversial £100m M5 Oldbury viaduct scheme, including deploying traffic officers on local roads for the first time.
The Government-owned company and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) under mayor Andy Street have signed a partnership agreement to improve communication and share working arrangements.
Under a 13-month pilot scheme, the Highways England traffic officer service will for the first time ever support motorists who break down on key roads near the M5.
The service, which normally only patrols the strategic road network, will work closely with Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police to help drivers and clear obstructions from incidents to keep traffic flowing in and around the Sandwell area.
The agreement was signed by Mr Street and Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan. Mr Street, said: ‘It’s important that people have confidence that every step is taken to minimise disruption when essential repairs and upgrades take place.
‘Firstly, this means closer working between the WMCA and Highways England around planning, so that we can ensure these works go as smoothly as possible. And secondly, measures such as introducing traffic officers to local roads means we can act more quickly when there are breakdowns to clear the way and get traffic flowing.
‘A huge amount of investment is going into the network in the coming years. This needs to be planned, communicated and managed as well as possible to keep disruption to a minimum. This partnership agreement will help us achieve this.’
Highways England recently started using rapid assistance motorcycles carrying emergency fuel to tackle breakdowns on the £100m concrete repair and waterproofing scheme.
Pictured: Andy Street, Jim O’Sullivan and traffic officer Paul Mynett