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Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Thursday, 11 November 2010
New proposals to transform access to and around Birmingham
The Birmingham Sprint could resemble the current system in  Oregon, USA
The Birmingham Sprint could resemble the current system in Oregon, USA

A multi-million pound tram-style service is one of the innovations in a new plan to transform the way people come into and move about in Birmingham.

The "Vision for Movement" scheme will upgrade and improve the city's bus lanes, road networks and create dedicated walking and cycle routes.

The 'trams' will cost around £15m and will run on wheels rather than rails.

They will cross the city linking tram and rail stations to Birmingham International Airport.

Dedicated bus lanes

The trams are part of an initiative called "The Birmingham Sprint" and will be similar to those services that are common in other European cities.

Their initial route will link Five ways to Walsall via Broad Street using dedicated bus lanes.

Although car access to Broad Street may be more limited, concerns over an increase in traffic congestion due to the introduction of bus lanes are premature according to the chief executive of Centro.

"One of the reasons we chose the Walsall Road is that it's already got a red route and there's pretty much free-flow traffic along there," he told BBC WM.

"I'm not saying it's not congested because that's not true but there are certain points along the way that, if we can tackle the priorities at those certain junctions, we will get much more of a free flow for the Birmingham Sprint."

Impact on businesses

Restricting the number of lorries that come into the city is also under consideration with local businesses being asked to consider pooling their deliveries and limiting delivery times.

How the Midlands Metro extension will look
Artist's impression of how the Midland Metro will extend into Birmingham

Gary Taylor is a director of a development company in Brindley Place and also the chair of the Broad Street Business Improvement District and he thinks a revamp of Broad Street is overdue.

"It's not a great street to walk along at the moment, during the day there's too much traffic down there," he told BBC WM.

"You've got to look carefully at the proposals of how you generate road space and give space to the likes of Birmingham Sprint and, yes, we've got to work through those details.

"But in many respects having a street with less traffic and more alternatives for moving around the city can only be a good thing."

Funding not guaranteed

The "Vision for Movement" scheme is part of the wider Big City Plan to transform Birmingham over the next 20 years.

Around £750m has already been committed to projects like the redevelopment of New Street train station and the extension of the Midland Metro through to Birmingham City centre.

Further funding will come from Government schemes but, with cutbacks already taking place, whether the necessary money will be secured is a moot point.

However the leader of Birmingham City Council Mike Whitby is sure of success.

"We have to make a case but we're more than confident of delivering all the big infrastructure projects on time and under budget," he said.

"We're proving that not only will we help Birmingham but we'll, through the Government's investment, help the UK's growth agenda. I'm more than confident."


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