It may have appeared to the naked eye that progress on the track replacement along Bilston Road has been slow but it has now been confirmed that an end is in sight for the completion of the project. Subject to testing it is planned that a full service will resume between Priestfield and Wolverhampton St George’s on Sunday 10th December.
Work is ahead of schedule and Bilston Road will in fact reopen to traffic on Saturday 2nd December with all road restrictions removed. The work is some two weeks ahead of schedule and is on budget. Once the road is reopened to traffic, testing and commissioning will start for Midland Metro with the aim that this will all be successfully completed in order for services to start again on 10th December.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “The reopening of Bilston Road, and the forthcoming return of trams to the city in time for Christmas, is great news for Wolverhampton. We thank the Midland Metro Alliance for safely completing this important work ahead of schedule. The City of Wolverhampton Council recognise that the works have caused disruption at times and we thank everyone affected for their patience.”
The project has seen 100 people employed, many of them local to the Black Country. The works involved breaking out 2.7km of the road and existing track, before replacement drainage systems and concrete base to support the tracks and road could be built. The replacement rails were then laid and welded into place after which the remaining concrete and road surface installed and the traffic and tram signalling reinstated.
A major milestone in the project was reached on Friday 17th November when the final sleepers were put into position. This achievement was marked with a group photograph of those workers who had been involved in the project. The last of the track and road surface will follow in the next few weeks.
In addition to the rail replacement along Bilston Road the chance has been taken to install the start of the junction for the Wolverhampton City Centre in order to reduce disruption for normal services when this line is constructed. This line will in fact be the first section of tramway to not be constructed with overhead wires with the batteries currently being tested on Urbos3 18 coming into their own.