Huge plans to revolutionise public transport in Dudley by bringing Metro through the borough are just one step away as the £449milion funding for the programme looks set to get the green light.
The West Midlands Combined Authority will determine the funding package at a meeting later this month, which will trigger billions of pounds worth of investment along the route.
It is the “final hurdle” for the highly anticipated project, which will link Brierley Hill up with Wednesbury, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the national rail network.
If approved by the Combined Authority Board, building work will start later this year.
Detailed research shows that the Metro could trigger 2,000 new homes a year, almost one million square feet of prime commercial space and 34,000 permanent jobs.
The increase in the number of people paying council tax from the extra new homes that could be built is also estimated to bring in £580million, giving vital funding to local services.
It will also improve connectivity to the DY5 business and innovation enterprise zone at Waterfont in Brierley Hill, as well as linking in with the planned multi-million pound transport interchange in Dudley town centre.
Councillor Qadar Zada, leader of Dudley Council, said:
We’re delighted the Metro project has got to this last stage and we are extremely optimistic the funding will be agreed at the final hurdle.
It will also trigger a huge wave of investment along the route in housing, business and construction and make our enterprise zone at Brierley Hill an even more attractive offer for firms making the borough their home.
The extra money this will generate for local services is also very significant, meaning everyone who lives here will benefit from Metro.”
Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and economic investment, added:
This is a critical point in how people use and experience public transport in Dudley, something we see once in a generation.
This new transport system is what the people of Dudley deserve and have been asking for many years. I’m delighted we have been able to keep this on track and hopefully begin seeing work on site start later this year, which will connect the borough up open up new opportunities in housing, business and much more.”
Once up and running there will be up to 17 new stops along the 11 kilometres of track. The new system will also reduce journey times by half compared to travelling by bus.