A pair of traditional narrow boats today passed each other high above the ground in Selly Oak, as work to build a new aqueduct to carry the Birmingham to Worcester Canal over a £16m major road development was completed.
The Aerial Aqueduct has been built as part of the development of the £16m Phase Two of the Selly Oak New Road, a major regeneration scheme which will not only ease congestion in Selly Oak, but also enable major regeneration and job creation in both Selly Oak and around the new road itself.
Cllr Timothy Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Transportation and Regeneration, said: “By both easing congestion in Selly Oak and greatly improving transport links and business opportunities along the new road, this project will bring great benefits to local motorists, residents and businesses alike.
“Logistically building the road across the path of both the canal and railway has certainly proved challenging, but I am glad to say it is a challenge we have risen to whilst keeping disruption to trains and boats to an absolute minimum.”
Developed by Birmingham City Council, British Waterways and Contractor Birse Civils Ltd, the three-span aqueduct will hold 175,000 gallons of water, carrying up to 50 boats a day along the Worcester to Birmingham Canal.
In order to cause minimum disruption during construction, the canal remained navigable throughout the works via a temporary diversion, and was only closed for short period to enable removal of this channel and reconnection with the aqueduct.
The aqueduct is to be named 'Ariel Aqueduct' after the Ariel Factory on Grange Road that produced Bicycles, Motorcycles and Cars. The factory closed in 1963 having been established for over 100 years.
Dean Davies, Waterway Manager for British Waterways said; “The Worcester & Birmingham Canal is a popular route for boaters and we're pleased that we've been able to work in partnership with Birmingham City Council and Birse Civils to ensure that this major engineering project could be delivered with the minimum of disruption. I'm confident that Ariel Aqueduct will prove to be a popular new addition to the region's historic canal network”.
As well as needing to build the aqueduct the Council and its partners have also faced a major challenge in how to take the road under one of the busiest rail lines in the city. To achieve this they have built a new rail bridge on site, which was wheeled into position over Christmas.
Now the aqueduct and the adjacent new railway bridge are both in place approximately 50,000m3 of material will be excavated from beneath the two bridges to allow the Selly Oak New Road Phase 2 to be connected to the recently opened Phase 1A section This crucial connection will, when the road is open to public in July 2011, help ease congestion in Selly Oak centre and help to stimulate the regeneration of the area.
To complete the full Selly Oak New Road further works are intended at the 'Selly Oak Triangle' as part of the planned development for the Birmingham Battery Site. When the full Selly Oak New Road is complete works to downgrade the Bristol Road through Selly Oak shopping centre will be carried out, comprising better facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.
The new road will play a major role in the delivery of economic benefits in the immediate locality and in the Selly Oak area, this includes the redevelopment of 18 hectares of brown field land, the creation of 1000 new jobs, around 67 businesses, temporary jobs during construction and the creation of over 1700 housing units. The construction of Selly Oak New Road Phase 2 has supported around 150 jobs.