£200m M54 and M6 link road plans submitted
An application to build a new dual carriageway linking the M54 and M6 has been formally lodged with planning bosses.
The £200 million road would carve a path through the countryside in a bid to cut congestion in South Staffordshire.
It will run near to the A460 Cannock Road currently connecting Junction 1 of the M54 to Junction 11 of the M6, if given the go-ahead.
Highways England has submitted the application to build the road with the Government's Planning Inspector, which will have the final say as it is such a large project, marking the first stage in what is expected to be a drawn-out process. The new road would not be built until 2024.
Public meetings have already been held in villages that would be affected.
The link road would come close to both Featherstone and Shareshill and will aim to ease traffic on A-roads surrounding both motorways.
It will take around 22,000 vehicles off the A460 - which runs between Wolverhampton and Cannock - each day and also ease congestion on the A449 and A5, a Highways England spokesman previously said.
Critics say the road in its current design is too close to the village of Hilton and there are concerns about noise and pollution. Highways England has promised to include measures to limit noise, including installing noise-barriers and planting hedgerows and trees.
The project would see the existing junctions at either end of the proposed link road replaced with new, bigger ones, which are able to carry more traffic.
Highways England has said everything will be done to "mitigate" the effects on local communities.
South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson supports the link road which he says is "long needed" but has said concerns about the "noise pollution and the proximity of the road to homes" must be addressed.
Highways England first drew up plans for a link road in 2014 and looked at a number of ways to build one.
This version was seen as the best option.
Now that a planning application has been lodged, the government office will exam the plans for around 16 to 18 months before making a recommendation to the Transport Secretary - who will make a final decision on the project. The final say should be made in 2021.
If the project goes ahead, it could be built by 2024.