A section of canal has been drained as work begins to improve access for commuters making their way into Birmingham city centre.
Costing £250,000 the work 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 as part of Birmingham City Council’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: “There 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.”
Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for a Green, Smart and Sustainable City at Birmingham City Council, said: “Towpaths 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 – fitting in perfectly with the aims of our Birmingham Mobility Action Plan. Walking and cycling are both great ways to get fit and discover your local stretch of canal.”
The works are expected to take 10 weeks. The towpath and canal will be closed until the 19 December 2014. After this time the towpath and canal will be back open but may have to close at various intervals.