A NEW multi-million-pound cycling route along one of Sandwell’s most congested routes has been given the go-ahead.

The new route takes in the whole of the A461 from Great Bridge in Tipton through to Burnt Tree and Castle Gate in Dudley and includes segregated walking and cycle paths and a new dedicated bus lane.

Sandwell Council said the work would cut congestion, provide better infrastructure for walking and cycling, and improve road safety and journey times for public transport.

The route also includes a two-part 820-metre bus lane along most of the congested A461 in Dudley Port from Peake Drive to Sedgley Road East and then again from Anchor Drive to Bradley Street before stopping at the Burnt Tree crossing towards Dudley.

Central hatching and right-turn waiting spaces along Dudley Port would be removed to make way for the new bus lane.

Buses travelling towards Great Bridge would also be given priority to turn into Market Place to avoid mounting congestion and delays at the Great Bridge roundabout. 

An extra exit lane would also be added to the roundabout onto New Road to prevent blockages and cut down delays.

Cyclists would then be able to use a shared path at Market Place with Brickhouse Lane South converted into a ‘quietway’ by restricting cars from using that road to access the retail park – allowing cyclists to travel over the A41 using the existing crossings to George Henry Road.

It is hoped the improvements will increase the share of journeys by bike and foot along the route by five per cent and by bus by three per cent by 2030.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet gave its blessing to the A461 project at a meeting on December 9 – with more detailed plans and a proper public consultation to follow in the coming months.

Labour cabinet member Cllr Peter Hughes, who is responsible for regeneration, said the plans would improve facilities for walking, cycling and taking the bus without ‘disadvantaging’ drivers.

At the cabinet meeting in Oldbury, Labour colleague Cllr Paul Moore, who represents Hateley Heath, said Sandwell’s canal towpaths were “already a network perfect for walking and cycling” but “significant amounts” of the routes had not been upgraded.

Cllr Moore suggested the money would be better spent improving those surfaces rather than building new walking and cycling paths.

Cllr Hughes said: “We are committed to supporting our residents to lead active healthy lifestyles and improve air quality in our borough, making it possible for our residents to walk and cycle safely around the borough is an important part of this.

He said Sandwell’s main roads were the “most direct route” and the council’s priority was making them the “natural choice” for cycling.

He said nearly 70 per cent of towpaths in Sandwell had already been upgraded.