Wednesday, May 31, 2017

News: Transport study into unlocking potential of AMID

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Consultants at WSP have been appointed to lead on a study into connectivity around the emerging Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (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 expanding Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and surrounding Enterprise Zone, the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.

In the Government's Autumn Statement it was announced that £1.4m had been secured by the SCR to develop plans to provide high quality access to AMID, supporting and enabling growth.

The study will seek to reduce pressure on both J33 and J34 of the M1 by exploring options to provide alternatives to the M1 for local traffic, and potentially provide additional routes between Sheffield and Rotherham without the need for drivers to pass through existing motorway junctions.

WSP will provide a range of specialist services including transport modelling, environmental impact assessment, flood risk and ecology in conducting a feasibility and economic appraisal to create a viable scheme that can be funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) through its Large Local Major Scheme Fund, as announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement. The study also is supported by local stakeholders, Highways England and the Sheffield City Region LEP.

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Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of highways and transport at Sheffield City Council said: "We are pleased to announce this major new review of capacity issues around AMID which will provide an opportunity to deliver transformational infrastructure that will ultimately improve accessibility in and around the area for the benefit of the whole City Region. Tackling capacity problems in the area will enable the economy to achieve its full potential around the Innovation Corridor and throughout the Lower Don Valley between Sheffield and Rotherham."

A recent study by car insurer, Admiral found that the journey time from Rotherham to Sheffield Town Hall down the Parkway increases by 185% during rush hour.

Poor connectivity into and around the AMID has been identified by the Council as a key priority in its aim to attract more companies to move there, enabling people and businesses across the Sheffield City Region to access new opportunities in growing markets. Improved transport links will also help facilitate improved access between rapidly emerging economic growth sites in the area which include almost 4,000 new homes at Waverley and further commercial developments at the Sheffield Airport Business Park.

Mike Holmes, technical director at WSP in Leeds, said: "We need to facilitate the strategic infrastructure required to support the City Region's aspirations to create the UK's largest research-led Advanced Manufacturing cluster which has the potential to be its primary economic driver and a major part of the Northern Powerhouse. Current capacity issues are only set to increase as more businesses and residents locate in the area which already suffers from a lack of good public transport links. It's vital that we find deliverable solutions to improve connectivity by road and sustainable transport options, whilst anticipating the future growth of the site."

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Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of Sheffield City Region LEP, said: “This important transport study on two major motorway junctions in Sheffield City Region is excellent news. The Sheffield City Region Innovation Corridor is an important project for our region and for the country and the investment in the study demonstrates recognition by Government that our region needs infrastructure investment to unlock its true economic potential. Connectivity is key to developing a centre of business excellence, and this funding will enable us to continue building a better-connected economy which works for businesses and residents.”

A £20m, alternative, all transport route which bypasses the congested M1 junction 34 South by providing a new section of highway beneath the Tinsley Viaduct opened last year. Work has also taken place to widen exit slip roads and roundabouts at Junction 33 and Rotherham's capital strategy includes a £45m plan to widen the Parkway to three lanes between the M1 and Catcliffe.
The city region secured £37m in the latest round of the Government's Growth Deal programme which is set to be used to support for the Integrated Infrastructure Plan, opening up new employment sites and delivering new homes, with particular priority given to developing the AMID and securing growth at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

The plan identified the need to tackle delays with an explicit need to widen the Parkway. The plan also highlights the need to "reduce forecast delay impact" on the A630 and A6178. It states that there is potential for a bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail solution to achieve this.

Damien Wilson, Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment at Rotherham Council, said: "We are very proud to see the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation District fast becoming the UK centre of excellence for research, manufacturing and technology. The AMID is ideally situated in the heart of the UK and this funding will allow us to investigate and put a good case forward for an improved infrastructure to support this expanding area, leading to faster journeys and promoting further future growth across the region."

WSP website

Images: Harworth / Bond Bryan / RMBC


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