Works to bring the second phase of the Birmingham Westside extension closer to completion have reached a major milestone with the reopening of Broad Street Canal Tunnel.

The Midland Metro Alliance has completed essential strengthening works to the canal bridge in just 12 weeks, two days earlier than planned, and the tunnel was reopened to canal and towpath traffic in March 2019.

As part of an innovative strengthening solution, steelwork was fitted into the existing brickwork of the late 18th Century structure. The system was installed from the underside of the bridge, resulting in less noise and impact on the highway above.

Paul Brown, Midland Metro Alliance Project Director for the Birmingham Westside extension, said: “Our team on the Birmingham Westside extension have worked tirelessly to ensure the canal tunnel works were completed on time, particularly graduate Dan Colley and Assistant Construction Manager Charlotte Parker to whom we owe the success of this phase of the works.”

Alejandro Moreno, Director of the Midland Metro Alliance, added: “We are extremely pleased that the area will be reopened to canal and towpath traffic on schedule and on budget. This is a significant step forward allowing us to forge ahead with this exciting project that will ultimately see West Midland Metro services extended from Grand Centralto the new terminus at 54 Hagley Road. We thank residents, businesses and the community who use the canal for their patience during these works. ”

With the support of the Canal & River Trust, construction on the canal tunnel was carried out during the quieter winter months in a bid to minimise disruption for the community living and working alongside the canal.

Adnan Saif, Regional Director for the Canal & River Trust in the West Midlands, added: “We are thankful to the Midland Metro Alliance for completing these works in such a timely manner and for their careful and considerate efforts to protect a structure of an important historic legacy. I have no doubt that, The Birmingham Westside extension follows the Metro extension from St. Chads to Grand Central, which opened for passenger service in May 2016.

Once completed, the Metro will operate between Grand Central and Hagley Road in Edgbaston, improving transport links in the heart of Birmingham, making journeys faster and more accessible, in turn helping businesses and supporting more jobs.

Five new tram stops will connect passengers to Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Brindleyplace, Five Ways and Hagley Road, with links to popular attractions such as the International Convention Centre, the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Symphony Hall, allowing more people to use the Metro in this area for day-to- day travel, reducing road congestion in the city centre, as well as improving sustainable transport options along Broad Street and beyond.

The first phase of the works to Centenary Square is anticipated to open for passenger service in late 2019. The second phase of the route is planned to open for passenger service in late 2021 in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games