By Lyndsey Hall
Hot on the heels of HS2, the planned trans-Pennine tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield could cut journey times in half for drivers.
Five routes are under consideration for the proposed tunnel, each joining the M60 east of Manchester and the M1 north of Sheffield, with four of the routes starting at the M67. Journey times would be reduced by thirty minutes, providing an economic boost to two of the key cities in the government’s Northern Powerhouse.
The tunnel would also reduce traffic through the Peak District National Park, helping to protect one of the country’s largest areas of natural beauty.
According to the trans-Pennine tunnel study, launched by the government in 2015, the tunnel could provide safer, faster and more reliable travel for motorists between Sheffield and Manchester and the surrounding areas. The study was just one of a number aimed at addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the road network in the UK.
Transport minister John Hayes said, “Today’s study brings us a step closer to building a trans-Pennine roads tunnel – it would be the most ambitious project since the construction of the first motorways fifty years ago.
We’re already spending £15billion on the biggest upgrade to the road network for generations. The next phase is aimed at creating more vital links, creating jobs and opportunities and helping hardworking families across the country feel the benefits of our investment.”
Chairman of Transport for the North John Cridland added, “The study shows a tunnel beneath the Pennines would both boost the economy of the region, and potentially benefit the environment of the Peak District by reducing traffic in the national park.
This is just one of the visionary projects Transport for the North is working on, as well as other schemes, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, as we continue to develop a transport and investment strategy to connect the North and transform its economy.”
The final stage of the study is due to be completed by the end of 2016, and concerns the strategic and economic cases for each option, including cost estimates. The study forms part of the government’s next phase of road improvements, which will get underway from 2020.
The five proposed routes are:
Northern corridor (A) – Follows the northern boundary of the study area and crosses the PDNP at the narrowest point.
A628/A616 Corridor (B) – Follows the line of the existing strategic route, following the M67, A628 and the A616.
Central Corridor (C) – Begins near the M60 via the gap between Denton/Hyde and Romiley/Bredbury near the River Tame, between J24 and J25. Joins the M1 in the area of J35.
Southern Corridor (D) – Meets the M60 around J25 and extends towards the Manchester Airport Eastern Link Road. Covers the A57/A630 dual carriageway south of Sheffield.
Overlapping Corridor (E) – Starts in the south of the study area heading south east, before turning north east and passing north of Stocksbridge. Connects around J25 of the M60 AND J35A/J36 of the M1.
See a map of the proposed routes here.
Which route would you vote for? Do you think the long-term benefits will be worth the short-term upheaval that construction of the tunnel will cause? We’d love to hear from you, join the conversation in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.
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