I want to apologise to those who are being affected by our works on the M5 at Oldbury and to say we understand first-hand the frustrations you may be feeling as many of our own staff live and travel to work from the area.

Let me assure you, we are doing all we can to minimise the impact on local roads and will continue to work constructively with residents and other concerned parties.

The work at Oldbury is the largest concrete repair project, by value, ever carried out in Britain and is essential, both in terms of safety and the efficient operation of our road network for the future.

The scale of the repair work is immense and, unfortunately, disruption is unavoidable. I recognise this is unwelcome, both for motorists and local communities. I also recognise that delivery of the M5 junctions 4a to 6 smart motorway upgrade has already inconvenienced local communities in Worcestershire. In a perfect world we wouldn’t have planned these schemes so close together but there was no choice given the deterioration of the viaduct at Oldbury.

Undertaking these necessary repairs now will prevent greater disruption in the future and will ensure that this important road remains safe and reliable. Before the work began, Highways England carried out extensive research using the latest traffic models to establish the best solution for the region. The lane restrictions at junction 4a are part of a package of carefully planned measures to balance the flow of traffic across Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

I fully appreciate road users’ frustrations around this. Junction 4a is some distance from the work at Oldbury but it is the last point at which road users can decide to use an alternative route on the motorway network, rather than less suitable local roads, which would cause widespread congestion.

Measures are also in place at M6 junction 8 (Walsall) to ensure similar southbound congestion is minimised.

In general these schemes do require a period of time before traffic flows become established. I understand people’s concerns and take on board comments. With this in mind, I’m continuing to assess and monitor the performance of the plans and make improvements wherever possible. When I get the results over the coming weeks then we’ll look at anything further that can be done to ease the impact.

My team is also in discussions with Worcestershire County Council and is already working with them to improve our signage on local and strategic routes.

Motorists can then make more informed choices about which route they take and how long their journey is likely to be. We continue to work with the council to analyse the impact across the local area.

The dynamic hard shoulder sections on the M42 and M6 – used by traffic when the motorway is at its busiest – are currently being opened much earlier than usual and left on later. We are monitoring to see if this helps. In the meantime I can only ask for people’s continued patience while this essential work takes place and, please be assured, we will keep people updated as work progresses.
Zbigniew Twarowski
Senior Project Manager
Highways England