A TUNNEL has been successfully excavated marking a key milestone in the restoration of Droitwich’s canals.

Over the past few months the A449 Worcester to Kidderminster road has seen massive construction work taking place underneath the carriageway.

Sheet piling has been installed to form the abutment supports to the 75-metre-long tunnel passing beneath the road along with a newly constructed towpath.

Although the tunnel has been excavated, finishing works will continue for some weeks, as will some traffic management on the A449.

British Waterways project manager Jason Leach said: “The creation of this tunnel is a significant milestone for the restoration project and its completion has been long awaited by many. The newly constructed tunnel and towpath will be soon be open for the public to explore and is a major link in the 21-mile canal and river loop.”

County councillor Derek Prodger, cabinet member for transport and safe environment, said: “This is such an important project and will have massive benefits for Worcestershire residents on both a recreational and commercial level. It will not only open up 21-miles of wonderful waterway for families to enjoy, but local businesses along the route will also benefit enormously. This was one of the earliest canals from Britain’s industrial past and it is wonderful that Worcestershire County Council is playing its part in bringing it back to life.”

The restored Droitwich canals, built by the canal engineer James Brindley, will generate more than 320,000 new visits within five years and an additional spend of £2.75 million per year in the local economy.