‘EXTREME concerns’ have been raised by a county council regarding the proposed traffic management system on the M5 during work to repair Oldbury viaduct.

Highways England has reduced the M5 down to one lane northbound at the M42 interchange near Bromsgrove to deter traffic from using the M5, hoping that northbound motorists will instead travel via the M42 to the M6.

But Worcestershire County Council has expressed strong concerns to Highways England regarding the move, claiming it is “imperative” to keep traffic flowing at junction 4a to “encourage and enable” the diversion along the M42 and M6.

The local authority also said that if significant congestion occurs at J4a, traffic may leave the motorway earlier “missing this diversion possibility and saturating Worcestershire's local roads, along with those of Sandwell and Birmingham”.

Councillor Alan Amos, cabinet member for highways, said: “We were informed of this proposal very late in its development and we have made clear our severe reservations to Highways England.

“Clearly, we are concerned about the potential impact on our local roads and the disruption to residents and businesses.

“We are especially concerned for those in and around Bromsgrove who have been suffering for the last two years as a result of the smart motorway works.

“It is essential that an organization like Highways England (HE) listens to the local highways authorities who are going to be most affected by HE's decisions.

“I am not satisfied that Highways England have given due weight to the very serious disruption that will occur by restricting the lanes down to one lane when it is clear from a highways perspective that traffic can be properly managed by leaving two lanes open.

“I am greatly disappointed that by imposing unnecessarily restrictive conditions, Highways England are just creating avoidable traffic delays and frustration.”

The viaduct improvement scheme, which is valued at more than £100 million, is expected to finish in autumn 2018 but some minor work will continue into spring 2019.

Defending the restrictions, Highways England senior project manager Zbigniew Twarowski said: "We fully appreciate people’s frustrations and apologise to motorists and residents for the inconvenience.

“As the work takes place we need to balance the flow of traffic across the region in order to minimise wider disruption and that is why we’ve introduced these measures, which have been carefully planned.

“We continue to work with partner organisations and take on board comments that have been made. As a result we’re looking at increasing signage as well as how we manage traffic.

“We’re doing everything possible to minimise impact on local residents.

“All we can do is ask for people’s continued patience. Motorists are urged to plan journeys in advance, allow extra time and consider alternative modes of transport, car sharing or working from home where possible.”