Despite making excellent progress at many locations along the Lichfield Canal the Lichfield and Hatherton is facing yet another major challenge. The long-delayed plans to extend the Lichfield Bypass are finally moving forwards. Staffordshire Highways intends to install a tunnel under the Birmingham Railway line by the end of next year. This is parallel to the crossing which L&H must also install to get the canal to London Road.
It is not possible to include road and canal in a single tunnel. For operational reasons, it is essential that the canal crossing is installed immediately after the road goes through. The main issues are gaining a railway possession from Network Rail and ensuring site access before the planned housing developments start.
Chairman of the Trust Brian Kingshott said: “L&H is faced with a project cost in the region of £2.1m. with a very short time frame to raise the money. Assuming the rerouting of the canal at Huddlesford in the wake of HS2 goes ahead this is probably the last potential ‘show-stopper’. All our other major projects will cost considerable sums but are not time-limited by factors beyond our control.”
Right, the railway catenary and sub-station which means the road and canal cannot pass through in a common portal. The canal will have to pass to the right.
Above, Birmingham Road Roundabout and beyond it the railway embankment through which the new bypass road and canal will be tunnelled. A culvert for the canal has already been installed under the roundabout at the time of its construction in 2007.
Below, February 2007 and the culvert is nearing completion. The line of the canal can be seen heading towards the middle catenary support.