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Birmingham Airport’s long-awaited runway extension finally set to fly

Birmingham Airport’s long-awaited runway extension finally set to fly

🕔30.Jan 2012

A £100 million contract to build Birmingham Airport’s long-awaited runway extension and carry out major improvements to the A45 is expected to be approved within weeks.

Fourteen construction firms that initially expressed an interest in the project have been whittled down to a shortlist of four, the city council cabinet was told.

Best and final offers are being evaluated by the airport and the council, and the successful bidder is likely to be announced by March, with work likely to begin in the summer.

The latest developments bring to a close years of uncertainty over the longer runway, which is needed to enable Birmingham to offer non-stop flights to China, India and the west coast of America.

The cumulative effect of the runway and improvements to the A45 expected to create hundreds of jobs at the airport and along the M42-A45 corridor, while also generating hundreds of millions of pounds for the regional economy.

However, the project has proved controversial with environmental groups including Friends of the Earth questioning the value of increasing the number of flights taking off and landing at the airport.

The group has also been critical of the funding arrangements, with £26 million towards the £32 million cost of diverting the A45 coming from the public purse.

The alignment of the road will be changed between Junction 6 of the M42 and Damson Parkway. A new traffic signal system will be installed along with capacity eventually to run the Midland Metro tram system from Birmingham city centre to the airport.

Work to the A45 and the runway extension is expected to be completed by 2014.

The cost of a longer runway was originally estimated to be £120 million, but the figure was cut to £65 million by reducing slightly the length of the extension and by avoiding the need to tunnel part of the A45.

Birmingham Council cabinet member for transportation and regeneration, Tim Huxtable, said the scheme would improve the airport for passengers as well as bringing economic benefits.

Coun Huxtable (Con Bournville) added: “This will bring a substantial boost to the local economy in terms of jobs created directly and indirectly and will make the airport work far more effectively.”

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