Transport projects green light – and a red

LONG-RUNNING schemes for a rapid bus link between Sheffield and Rotherham, four extra Supertrams and a road for the new Waverley township are edging forward – but hopes of improving Penistone Road have suffered a big blow.

A Government assessment of value for money offered by transport projects has resulted in all but one in the Sheffield area being kept alive in the current financial climate. However, more work will have to be done to pass the next round of efficiency tests.

Sheffield City Council has been pressing for years for a faster bus service between the centres of Sheffield and Rotherham, one that would see improvements to existing roads but also a new road under the Tinsley viaduct to avoid the bottleneck of M1 Junction 34A. The project has been costed at around £40m.

With no money in prospect to extend the tram network in Sheffield, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and the council want to add four vehicles. This scheme, too, is now moving to the next stage of the Government’s Department for Transport’s assessment process.

Likewise work will progress on the proposed Waverley Link Road between the intended township of offices and houses off the Sheffield Parkway, and Woodhouse Mill.

More certain is a dualling of the A57 east of Junction 31 on the M1 and the replacement of Todwick crossroads with a roundabout. The Department for Transport has agreed to pay £11.8m towards a £14.7m scheme at the accident blackspot.

The local loser is the £13m Penistone Road ‘Smart Route’ project, which is designed to make the going easier for motorists, buses, pedestrians and cyclists. The council wants to improve junctions and install traffic lights at bottlenecks such as Leppings Lane and the Hillsborough Barracks, create bus lanes and install new bus stops.

Now there is no sign of any Government money to make it happen.

Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett said: “Having said they would consider the proposals in detail, they have – after a cursory examination – scrapped what was crucial investment in unblocking bottlenecks and assisting with economic development in the Upper Don Valley and Hillsborough area.

“I fear that this is just another example of the plug being pulled on key investment.”

Mr Blunkett said roads could be improved as a result of a proposed Sainsbury’s superstore at Wadsley Bridge, which has yet to receive council approval.

“I remain hopeful that some agreement can still be reached with Sainsbury’s, who are applying for planning consent to gain some cash for road improvements and traffic management schemes, both for residents and those travelling through the area.”