In the quest to find solutions that meet clean air targets and reduce congestion in city centres, encouraging people to walk, cycle and use public transport has become the focal point for local authorities.

During the next five years, substantial new housing projects will be undertaken near Dudley Road in Birmingham. This will add further pressure to navigating safe passage around the area, therefore Birmingham City Council decided to improve the A457 Dudley Road by:

  • Upgrading facilities for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Providing new bus lanes
  • Reducing traffic congestion through junctions

The scheme includes upgraded junctions, new bus lanes, new segregated cycle routes, widened footways and a new footbridge alongside Spring Hill Canal Bridge.

Western Road was the first of a number of sections of the Dudley Road project, this section was located within the middle portion of the scheme. As the project title suggests this section was located at the junction of Dudley Road and Western Road.

The project objective was the widening of a 400m section of Dudley Road and 100m section of Western Road. In addition to the carriageway widening works this included significant service diversions, new drainage systems, central reservations, street lighting, traffic signals and associated pedestrian crossings plus a separate toucan crossing), road signage, new footways and blue cycleways.


A very busy local environment including a Primary WPD substation, City Hospital, the Soho Loop large mixed-use development, and Saint Patricks Primary School.

The A457 is a main route into and out of Birmingham with heavy traffic flows, particularly during rush hours.

Due to the presence of a primary substation, there was a significant amount of HV cable to be diverted. Additional services requiring diversion included BT fibre-optic and copper networks, a gas main, several water mains and Virgin Media comms.

Site rules stated that no mechanical excavation could take place within 500mm of a live service. The need to reduce ground levels around services would involve a large amount of excavation with hand tools which would have been hugely time consuming and labour intensive.


Detailed planning of the works to maximise available work space with consideration to all users ensuring traffic flows and pedestrian footways were maintained.

Close contact / regular meetings with all stakeholders and statutory undertakers.

Out of hours working utilised during weekends and nights to minimise disruption.

Detailed safe system of works for working around services. The introduction of  vacuum excavation offered a much quicker excavation solution negating the need for additional labour. Vacuum excavation also offers significant health and safety benefits due to the far lower risk of damage to live services.


The project achieved its primary objective – dramatically improving traffic congestion within the area, the difference from before the project and after is remarkable. Moreover, both pedestrian and cycleway safety is much improved within the local vicinity.

The nearby Perry Barr Stadium was the venue for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, therefore, the project had to be completed before the event commenced. Through extended working hours across evenings and weekends, the site team produced a gold medal winning performance to ensure the new scheme was ready well before the Torch arrived.

McPhillips’ Project Manager Paul Handley commented: “The significant challenges which were encountered by ourselves and Birmingham City Council during the project were dealt with in an impressive, collaborative manner. Quality control throughout the project was of the highest order.

“The shared on-site office enabled quick responses and earlier decision making. This contributed to the continued, excellent working relationship with Birmingham City Council, leading to McPhillips being awarded the next phase of the Dudley Road Improvement Scheme.”

For more information on other McPhillips’ civil engineering projects visit: https://www.mcphillips.co.uk/civil-engineering/

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