The opening of Bentley Mill Way marks the completion of a £26m highways improvement scheme started in 2013 that has brought together infrastructure improvements to four sites and involved engineers and specialists and organisations from across the Black Country.
Known as the Darlaston Strategic Development Area Access Project (DSDA) the scheme has provided challenges which have won the team’s involved regional recognition for an award for innovation from the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation.
Examples of work on the scheme includes providing major enhancements to two bridges spanning both a canal and a railway while widening the road in-between and renovating the grade 2 listed James Bridge aqueduct constructed in 1797.
For existing businesses like Hartshorne Motor Services Ltd who were the first to drive down Bentley Mill Way following a ribbon cutting celebration recently the benefits will mean improved access to the region which will help to drive their business forward.
Hartshorne’s Group Director of Quality, David Crowley stated: "As a long established business on Bentley Mill Lane we are delighted to see it reopen.
"This additional access will provide us with more expansion opportunities which will mean a growth in jobs for more HGV technicians and as we are still growing our business in the area it’s great to see one of our Volvo FE Trucks be the first under the newly re-opened aqueduct.”
Councillor Lee Jeavons, Deputy Leader said: "I saw the beginning of this project and it is very gratifying to see it completed. This project is more than just a means of getting people from A to B, though that will be an undoubted benefit.
"The real benefit of this project is that it unlocks the potential of the area, providing a number of sites which we hope will attract new investment, business and jobs. This can only be good for our town and our residents."
The total cost of the scheme was £26m with the Department for Transport providing £14.3m.
During the project local businesses have also had the chance to bid for and win contract work across the sites and this has meant employment for local people in a variety of roles.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said: "The opening of Bentley Mill Way marks the successful completion of the Darlaston scheme that will give Walsall and the Black Country a major economic boost, cut congestion and improve journeys.
"The government is providing a record £12 billion to local areas for schemes like this. We are delivering the biggest investment in roads in a generation that will help businesses, create jobs and help the economy grow.”
The Dawnus Construction Contracts Manager Angus Watson said: ‘’The completion of this project is a proud moment for Dawnus Construction. Our team have worked tirelessly to deliver this high profile project in close collaboration with Walsall MBC with over 370,000 hours worked by the construction team.
"We have overcome some significant technical challenges along the way and have achieved a high quality end product producing local employment with traffic flows significantly improved. The Dawnus Construction team complete this project with great satisfaction.’’
With access to 40 hectares of derelict land available for development within the Black Country Enterprise Zone (BCEZ) the area will be more attractive for inward investment. It is anticipated that the redevelopment of the Enterprise Zone sites in Darlaston could create up to 2,000 jobs and deliver up to 125,000sqm of new floor space.
Tom Westley, Black Country LEP board member said: "This is fantastic news for the Black Country. Our Enterprise Zone has been described as the most successful nationally and has already generated £1.5 billion of investment, so to see such key infrastructure such as Bentley Mill Way completed and open is the best encouragement for businesses already located here as well as those looking to invest in the Enterprise Zone’s success.”
For further information on this project, please contact the Regeneration team at Walsall Council on 01922 654754.