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BIRMINGHAM: Remembering city super tunnel idea

BIRMINGHAM: Remembering city super tunnel idea

Credit: Birmingham City Council.

This week has seen the reappearance of an idea for the A38 tunnels to be closed off to traffic and diverted to the ring road.

But at one point, another huge concept was being considered to get traffic off the A38, allowing the space through the city centre to be freed up for other uses.

A “game-changer” re-think of the A38 reportedly included the option of creating a completely new giant tunnel the length of the city centre.

It was reported at the time the idea was put forward by Birmingham City Council to address unsustainable traffic levels on the A38, free up development space and improve connectivity in the centre.

The super tunnel idea took a cue from the underground motorway in the US city of Boston, but has apparently since been set aside with subsequent plans.

The finalised Birmingham transport plan is set to be approved by city council Cabinet members next week (October 12) and makes no mention of the underground motorway.

David Harris, transport policy manager at the city council at the time, said the plans at that stage were about encouraging people out of cars – just as the latest plans aim to achieve today.

He asked at the time whether it was better to close the A38 tunnels or “join them up or close them and build new ones”.

Simon Statham, associate director at the WSP consultancy, said the option of a deeper tunnel similar to Boston’s Big Dig “could be a radical solution”.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson today said: “This was a long time ago, and as I understand it was simply an option to be explored in the then Birmingham Mobility Action Plan.

“The Birmingham Transport Plan supersedes any previous transport plans.”

The new plan, unveiled by the city council yesterday (Oct 5) states an option for the A38 Queensway would be to reroute traffic to an upgraded A4540 Ring Road.

This would mean vehicles on journeys currently passing through the centre of Birmingham will be diverted.

A plan closer to fruition in the document is the concept of splitting the city centre area into segments – restricting private vehicles from driving between areas and instead diverting them back onto the ring road.

Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter

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