RAMP UP: Latest on HS2 works timetable
More than a year since HS2 received “notice to proceed” from ministers, activity around the rail project continues to ramp up in Solihull.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) provides an update on where works have got to and – as we enter the final stretch of summer – what is next in store.
Interchange Station site:
Very much the engine of activity on the Solihull stretch of the track.
It was recently announced that HS2 has begun the hunt for a contractor to build the station itself, with the winning bid set to be announced next year.
In the meantime work continues apace on the huge triangle of land where the rail stop will eventually welcome passengers.
Work crews from Balfour Beatty Vinci have now started the topsoil
strip to construct the embankment for the A446/A452 roundabout.
This imposing island will carry the road over the top of the rail line, with the two seven metre road bridges having already been manoeuvred into position on-site.
A temporary closure of Birmingham Business Park’s entrance and exit, off Northway Island, will be in force this coming weekend.
The project will run from 7pm tonight (Friday, August 6) through to 4am on Monday, August 9.
It is part of the wider realignment of roads near to the Interchange area, with the plan to replace the current roundabout with a new T-Junction.
Two short sections of the island have been closed since July 19, with a HS2 update to Solihull Council suggesting that they will reopen on August 26.
This programme of works more generally is scheduled to be completed in July 2022, ahead of the Commonwealth Games getting underway.
Pool Wood clearance:
As we reported at the start of last week, work to clear the Pool Wood area has started in earnest – some eight months after the first signs of trees being marked-up.
The loss of the wildlife habitat, which covers a triangle of land alongside the A452, is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for conservationists.
HS2 contractors LM JV has said that vegetation clearance is continuing along the length of the route.
The latest update issued to Solihull’s HS2 implementation advisory group said: “In some areas, we need to return to places we previously started to clear but couldn’t finish due to environment/ecology requirements and constraints.”
Borough councillors are particularly keen that residents are made aware of any plans to fell trees at individual locations, having suggested last month that these works often cause a greater backlash than the major infrastructure projects.
Park Lane/A452 roundabout:
Park Lane, at Balsall Common, is being widened and an island being constructed, near to where one of HS2’s construction compounds is based.
The creation of a central running lane is expected to continue until the end of the month.
The work on the roundabout itself will then follow, with the majority of the activity relying on a single lane closure in the central reservation.
An internal haul route, to serve the compound, is also edging towards completion.
Coleshill Heath Road compound:
Another base of operations is being created in the north of the borough, with work to construct the compound at Coleshill Heath Road, Chelmsley Wood, starting in June.
Teams are currently building the foundations for the temporary buildings and preparation work is also progressing for the concrete batching plant.
Discussions are ongoing around how the local community will be compensated for the loss of nearby parkland, with the creation of a skate park among the options having previously been floated.
Balsall Common haul routes:
The dust is still settling in the Solihull village after HS2 secured approval for plans to take up to 200 lorries a day along Hallmeadow Road.
The original plan was to start properly using this route for construction traffic from mid-2022
Although that was contingent on the use of a separate route, along Waste Lane, in the build-up.
With that separate application having been thrown out last week, it is still somewhat uncertain as to how the timetable might need to be altered.
Discussions on the Balsall Common and River Blythe viaducts:
It is going to be a long while before work starts on two of the most imposing structures on the Solihull stretch of the rail track.
Although HS2 has indicated that it will be getting its engagement over the designs of the viaducts underway in late summer.
Crucially the landmarks have been designated “key design elements”, which means there will be work to make them bespoke.
- Any residents with queries about any aspect of the construction project can call HS2’s 24/7 helpdesk on 08081 434 434. Alternatively you can email email@example.com
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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