Motorists and Supertram passengers are being warned to expect disruption as work is due to begin on a £32m project to replace worn-out rails on Sheffield’s tram network.
The first section of track, between Spring Lane and Park Grange Croft, is due to be tackled from late June or early July, taking around 12 weeks. Buses will be run in its place.
Rails on most of the rest of the network, which is approaching its 20 year milestone, will be replaced over the next five summers, avoiding the risk of frost.
It will inevitably result in some traffic disruption, but it is not expected to be to the extent of when the routes were installed in the first place, when roads were dug up to allow concrete beds to be laid, and traders demanded compensation for the loss of business.
Worst-hit areas are likely to include Hillsborough, West Street, City Road and the outer ring road between Manor Top, Gleadless Townend and Herdings Park.
Tram network owner South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and system operator Stagecoach Supertram are to finance the programme.
SYPTE Deputy Interim Director General David Young said: “When the tram system was installed in 1994, it was widely expected at the time that the rail would have a 30-year lifespan. However, over the past two years, it has become clear that this replacement work needs to be carried out sooner rather than later to ensure the people of Sheffield, and the wider region, have a robust and reliable tram network in the future.”
Already Supertram engineers have extended the life of the track by up to five years. However, around 22km of the tram route needs the rail replacing by 2024.
Work on the line to Meadowhall will coincide with the tram-train link between Sheffield and Rotherham set for launch in 2016.