A section of historic canal is set to be drained as works begin to improve access for commuters making their way into Birmingham city centre.
Costing Â£250,000 the works will create a new access point along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in the centre of Birmingham linking the canal to the nearby Five Ways train station. Once complete, the project will open up a green, traffic-free route between Edgbaston and the city centre making it an attractive way of getting to work or the shops.
The works are being delivered by the charity, Canal & River Trust, as part of Birmingham City Councilâ€™s Birmingham Cycle Revolution Project and will involve the towpath being widened and a new set of steps being installed at Islington Row Canal Bridge which is on Islington Row Middleway.
In order to widen the towpath the canal will need to be drained so that the current waterway wall can be dismantled and a new one built. Once installed the new steps will include a bicycle friendly channel which will enable bikes to be wheeled up the steps rather than carried. The works will make towpath safer for shared use by walkers, cyclists and boaters without having an impact on boats using the canal.
Jonathan Pritchett, from the Canal & River Trust, said: â€œThere are few better ways to start your day than a walk or bike ride and, once these new steps are installed, it should make the morning commute much easier for people wanting to access the train station, the Cube and the Mailbox.â€
Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for a Green, Smart and Sustainable City at Birmingham City Council, said: â€œTowpaths are a great alternative route for getting in and around the centre of Birmingham and this new access will make it easier for everyone, particularly those using the train station â€“ fitting in perfectly with the aims of our Birmingham Connected plan. Walking and cycling are both great ways to get fit and discover your local stretch of canal.â€
The works are expected to take 10 weeks. The towpath and canal will be closed until the 19 December 2014.Â After this time the towpath and canal will be back open but may have to close at various intervals.
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Notes to editors
The Canal & River Trust is the guardian of 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England and Wales, caring for the nationâ€™s third largest collection of listed structures, as well as museums, archives, and hundreds of important wildlife sites.
We believe that living waterways transform places and enrich lives and our role is to make sure there is always a place on your doorstep where you can escape the pressures of everyday life, stretch your legs and simply feel closer to nature.
Birmingham Cycle Revolution is a major initiative led by Birmingham City Council to increase cycling in the city.
A team of consultants, led by WSP (and including Peter Brett Associates LLP, Grontmij, and Steer Davies Gleave) has been appointed to lead the delivery of the project, working closely with BCC and other key partners (such as the Canal and River Trust).
The aim of the project is to make cycling an everyday form of transport over the next 20 years.Â Currently, around 2 per centÂ of trips in the city are by bike.Â We want 5 per centÂ of all trips to be made by bicycle by 2023 and to double this again to 10 per centÂ by 2033.
This revolution will help to make Birmingham a greener, safer, less congested and healthier place to live.
To achieve this, Birmingham City Council secured a Â£17million from the Governmentâ€™s Cycle City Ambition Fund announce in August 2013 , topped up to Â£24.3million from other sources, to support an intensive programme of cycling improvements.
This funding will be used initially to improve the cycling network within a 20 minute cycling time from Birmingham city centre, providing 95km of improvements to existing cycle routes and 115km of new routes.
This funding will be used to build new cycle lanes on popular commuter routes into the city centre, upgrade tow paths on canals, introduce â€œgreen routesâ€ through parks, introduce 20mph speed limits within residential areas, provide secure cycle parking hubs and develop cycle loan and hire schemes (including Big Birmingham Bikes).
Work on the Birmingham Cycle Revolution has already started.Â Improvements started on our canals (led by the Canal and River Trust) and green routes, and on-road cycle routes are currently being designed and will be consulted on throughout the Spring and Summer 2014.