Midland Metro extension continues after talks with Westside BID and city council

Works have resumed on the Midland Metro tram extension up Broad Street to Edgbaston after detailed discussions involving Westside BID and Birmingham City Council.

The works, linking Centenary Square to Hagley Road on the far side of Five Ways, were suspended for two-weeks when the government introduced COVID-19 social distancing measures on 23 March.

The Midland Metro Alliance had taken this decision to ensure the safety of its teams and the public.

But following talks with Westside BID and Birmingham City Council, the extension works have restarted because a considerable reduction in road traffic and pedestrians makes it safe to do so.

Mike Olley, general manager at Westside BID, said: “With bars, restaurants and clubs currently closed in and around Broad Street because of COVID-19, now is the perfect time for Metro works to safely continue.

“The BID is delighted that this is now happening so that when things return to normal we will be closer to a completed extension, with the Metro providing a vital link for people to access the Broad Street area.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Midland Metro Alliance said it had responded to “further advice and clarification” from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, along with updated site operating procedures from the Construction Leadership Council.

The spokesman said: “Following this, and with further careful consideration, works on the Edgbaston phase of the Birmingham Westside Metro extension have now resumed in a reduced capacity in line with industry safety procedures.

“An abundance of care continues to be taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our team and that government guidelines are met on our site at all times, with much of the work currently taking place in heavy plant allowing for extended social distancing of staff members.

“This is an ever-changing situation and we will continue to follow government advice accordingly. Construction works on additional Metro extension projects will resume as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”

The spokesman added that they had always been keen to resume work, but had to wait for government guidance to “ensure that our staff were able to do their work safely”.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE, Birmingham’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, explained the city council had an obligation to support the local economy as much as possible, and that identifying opportunities to ensure economic security was crucial.

Cllr Zaffar said: “The UK lockdown has meant that Broad Street is currently very quiet and most businesses are closed.

“This provides us with an opportunity to carry out the disruptive works involved with the Metro extension now, and therefore avoid major disruptions and road closures when businesses are back up and running.

“This work will be carried out safely with social distancing guidelines being observed at all times.

“The UK government has clearly stated that construction sites have not been asked to close as a result of COVID-19 and that work can continue if it can be carried out safely.

“I would therefore encourage all our contractors to look at bringing forward works that would cause less disruption to our citizens and infrastructure if they were carried out now, rather than when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

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