Black Country New Road
This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The route was first planned during the 1980s, as a trunk road to link the planned Black Country Route at Bilston with Junction 1 of the M5 motorway in West Bromwich, featuring grade-separated junctions, although these were abandoned by 1992 due to cost-cutting measures by the Conservative government, with conventional traffic islands taking the place of the grade-separated junctions and part of the route diverted along an existing road instead of running along a new mile-long route.
The first phase of the route was completed in July 1995, beginning with a half-mile stretch of dual carriageway linking the A41/A4038 junction in Moxley with the simultaneously completed Black Country Route. It opened at the same time as the Great Bridge to West Bromwich section, which also included the Great Bridge relief road (Great Western Way).
The second phase was completed in November 1995. This route was late in its completion because it made use of a four-span viaduct-style bridge over Eagle Crossing (carrying a section of railway between Walsall and Brierley Hill which had closed two years earlier) in the Toll End area of Tipton.
The final phase of the route was completed in the spring of 1997, with a one-mile (1.6 km) stretch of Holyhead Road being converted into a dual carriageway at half the cost of the original proposed route which would have made use of an entirely new road between Moxley and Wednesbury.
As well as relieving traffic congestion, the Black Country Spine Road also opened up several square miles of previously inaccessible land around Wednesbury and Tipton. This allowed for commercial and light industrial development to take place and create jobs in an area which since the 1970s had been hit by de-industrialisation and unemployment. Unemployment figures in some of the area surrounding the Spine Road are still relatively high, but the businesses set up along the route have no doubt been an asset to the local economy.
When plans were originally drawn up for the Road they included the provision of a navigable culvert under the road near the Swan Bridge roundabout to the Ridgacre Branch, part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. However, when it was built this was not implemented and the canal was cut off from the canal network and lost to navigation. It remains in water and used for fishing, but without the traffic of boats is rapidly becoming silted up.