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30 March 2006

Mott MacDonald to assist with major congestion study

Mott MacDonald has been appointed to assist on a £1.2m congestion feasibility study, the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the West Midlands region. Congestion is currently estimated to cost the West Midlands around £2.5bn every year and the seven Metropolitan Authorities, together with the Passenger Transport Authority, have committed to investigating how it should be tackled through this new study.

The West Midlands Metropolitan Area was awarded the single largest slice of Transport Innovation Fund cash by Government at the end of last year to help fund the project. The study will investi-gate the scale and cause of congestion in the West Midlands and a range of potential solutions, including road pricing.

The study will explore what’s needed to tackle congestion in the West Midlands now and in future. It will look at how current policies within the Local Transport Plan will impact on congestion; the difference that measures like more flexible working hours, parking policies and travel plans, would make; and the impact of the more intensive demand management measures which could include possibilities such as specific investment in improved public transport alongside options like road user charging.

Coventry City Council Chief Executive Stella Manzie, who chairs the feasibility study Steering Group, said: ‘The West Midlands is at the forefront of national efforts to tackle congestion. Action is needed if we are to head off very real threats to regeneration, growth and quality of life. We are committed to finding a long term solution.

‘This feasibility study will be an evidence-based process that will help us get to the bottom of where and why there is congestion, and explore the pros and cons of different solutions. We are appointing leading independent experts in this field to carry out this work to ensure a rigorous approach. We are also directly involving many of the groups affected by congestion to feed into the study including representatives of business, environment groups and transport providers.’

Work on the study is now underway with expert consultancies taking responsibility for specific areas over the coming months, Mott MacDonald will be assisting with Congestion/transport modelling and assessment.

A West Midlands feasibility study project team which includes the Department for Transport and Highways Agency will be reporting regularly to the seven metropolitan authorities through Leaders and the Chair of the Passenger Transport Authority. The views of business, environment and other stakeholders will also continue to be sought as part of this process through a Stakeholder Reference Group.

This first stage West Midlands congestion feasibility study is due to be completed in the summer.


Notes to editors

The West Midlands was awarded £2.6m of pump-priming money from the Government’s Transport Innovation Fund in November 2005, the largest share of the funding awarded. £600,000 of this funding, matched by funding from the Metropolitan Authorities, is paying for this initial £1.2m congestion feasibility study. The remaining £2m of funding is a commitment from Government should the West Midlands continue with its congestion investigations beyond this first stage feasibility study.
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