Birmingham tunnels reopen after six weeks of maintenance

Engineers have improved fire escapes and the general appearance of the tunnels

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Birmingham's main city centre tunnels have reopened after six weeks of maintenance work.

The St Chad's and Queensway tunnels, on the A38 between St Chad's Cathedral and The Mailbox, shut last month for their first major work in 40 years.

Nearly 1,000 new lights have been installed in the tunnels and about 21,000 sq m of fire protection has been added to the walls and ceiling.

Engineers have also improved fire escapes and the general appearance.

The tunnels - when open - are used by about 85,000 vehicles every day and business leaders and opposition councillors had voiced concerns there would be chaos during the closure, with the city centre grinding to a standstill.

But Birmingham Chamber of Commerce leader Steve Brittan, who had said "having the two main tunnels closed for all that time will be just horrendous", said during the closure period he felt people had heeded the warnings and there had been less traffic around.

Some motorists reported delays to their journeys but others said they were unaffected.

When the city council announced last October it would be carrying out the repairs it said traffic levels were up to 20% lighter during school holidays and working on both the tunnels during the day and night for six weeks would be cheaper than just closing them overnight or working on them one tunnel at a time.

Next year further improvement work will concentrate on electrics within the tunnels - installing new emergency and communications systems, CCTV and controls to alter the lighting.

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