PEOPLE living and working in the Black Country are now able to enjoy a green, traffic-free route to school and work after the Canal & River Trust, completed a two-year project to improve 11 miles of towpath along the Birmingham Main Line canal.
The Trust was able to make the improvements thanks to funding from the Local Growth Fund ‘Managing Short Trips 2 Programme’. The programme was overseen by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and managed by West Midlands Combined Authority in partnership with Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils.
A major part of these improvements has created a level pot hole and traffic-free route from Birmingham to Wolverhampton that local people can use to commute to work and school, enjoy a leisurely stroll or go for a run throughout the year.
Thanks to a previous project a further 12 miles of the towpath across the Black Country have already been improved along the Wyrley & Essington Canal between Wolverhampton and Wednesfield and Tame Valley Canal between Friar Park and Perry Barr. Some additional funding from Sandwell Council has improved links to and from the towpath to Tipton Station and Tame Valley Parkway.
Adnan Saif, director of Canal & River Trust in the West Midlands said: “Independent research tells us that spending time by the water can help us to lead happier and healthier lives and, with 70% of people in the Black Country living within less than a mile of a canal, our local waterways have a really important role to play.
“These works will ensure that, whatever the time of year, the towpath is a welcoming, accessible place for local people to build some time by water into their daily routines and, in doing so, improve their health and wellbeing.”
Ninder Johal, from Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Black Country people are rightly proud of their canal heritage and programmes like this enable more people to get out and about on the Black Country’s 100 miles of towpath. We know that 66% of journeys undertaken are less than five miles, so this is about creating viable alternatives to taking the car.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our region is blessed with a wonderful network of canals and waterways that are often underused.
“Thanks to this latest investment, it is now easier than ever to get around on two feet or two wheels along these scenic paths and away from busy roads.
“Exploring these towpaths not only improves general wellbeing, but it also helps to tackle the climate change emergency the region is facing.”
For more information on the work of the Canal & River Trust including how you can volunteer and donate money to support the work we do visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk