Tuesday, November 29, 2016

News: Progress for Parkway widening plan

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Multimillion pound plans to widen the Parkway and improve connectivity around the emerging Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) have been given the green light for further development.

The Department for Transport (DfT) invited Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to bid into a £475m Large Local Major Schemes fund, which forms part of the Local Growth Fund and was announced in the 2016 Budget. The purpose is to fund "exceptionally large, transformational schemes that are too big to be taken forward within regular growth allocations and could not otherwise be funded."

The criteria meant that, for the Sheffield city region (SCR), the minimum scheme size is £75m. The Government has now announced that two SCR projects have now advanced to the next stage and have secured funding to develop the business cases further.

The Sheffield Mass Transit Scheme has secured £1.57m to build up plans for the renewal of track and vehicle infrastructure on the Sheffield Supertram system to allow it to operate for another 30 years when the existing operation concession ends in 2024.

The scheme covers the replacement of assets that are reaching the end of their economic life, including the replacement of the existing fleet of vehicles. This scheme also forms the foundation to allow future tram/tram train based mass transit extensions to support key growth areas across the SCR with enhanced connectivity.

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£1.4m has also been secured to develop plans for the Sheffield City Region Innovation Corridor - a scheme for new road infrastructure between Sheffield and Rotherham around the M1 focusing on the AMID.

Recognising that high value manufacturing can be key to driving innovation, productivity and exports, civic leaders have committed to the idea of "supercharging" the areas of advanced manufacturing in the Sheffield-Rotherham Economic Corridor. Based around the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and surrounding Enterprise Zone, the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.

A potential £600m centre of excellence in metals and materials manufacturing would include campus developments and industrial space and connect the AMP area, key companies in the broader Don Valley, and the city centres. The transport project involves providing high quality access to AMID, supporting and enabling growth.

Multimillion pound work has taken place to widen exit slip roads and roundabouts at J33 and Rotherham's capital strategy includes a £45m plan to widen the Parkway to three lanes between the M1 and Catcliffe. Plans for the Waverley Link Road are also back on the table and it is recognised that development is also being constrained by J34 at Meadowhall.

The SCR Infrastructure Investment Plan identified the need to tackle delays on A630, A633, A57, A6178 and at M1 J34 with an explicit need to widen the Parkway. An intervention is also included on new mass transit links into the Waverley, AMP and Sheffield Business Park.

The Government also committed to further analysis of the case for the Trans-Pennine Tunnel Strategic Study to assess the full impact of any improvements before a firm and final conclusion can be reached. Routes have been shortlisted and those closest to Rotherham have now been given indicative costs. The most expensive option, which would join at the M1 in the area of Junction 35 on the edge of the Rotherham border could cost £11.6 billion.

David Brown, chief executive of Transport for the North, said: "The Trans-Pennine Tunnel Study has found that there are no insurmountable geological barriers to building a tunnel and that a new strategic road link between Manchester and Sheffield would bring economic benefits. However, this would be a very expensive and long-term project. Work is now continuing to fully understand potential user benefits and disadvantages so that an informed decision can be made."

Images: Eurovia


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