Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern on the road and rail projects being planned by the Sheffield City Region Local Transport Body (LTB).
The LTB recently unveiled a shortlist of 19 projects it was requesting funding for on behalf of the Sheffield City Region to support economic growth and job creation.
It will submit the list to the Department for Transport by the end of the month before deciding how to invest the local transport and infrastructure funds over the next ten years.
Sheffield Chamber welcomes the positive intent of the investments and the prospect for more jobs. However, it does have reservations on key areas which have not been included in the shortlist.
The organisation, which represents more than 2,500 businesses, has questioned why a major redevelopment around Junction 34 of the M1 motorway is not part of the plans, especially as projects in the area are already being objected to because of transport capacity.
Richard Wright, executive director of the Sheffield Chamber, said:
“We don’t think the proposals address properly one of the major transport bottlenecks for the city region – the current problems at Junction 34 of the M1.
“This is a major access route for the Lower Don Valley which stretches from Sheffield to Rotherham.
“It is one of the most significant economic locations for the region, particularly as it adjoins the Enterprise Zone at Sheffield Business Park. The new High Speed Rail station will be at one end of the valley, whichever option is finally chosen, and that is likely to cause further load.
“Also, there are a number of development proposals for the area which are already being objected to on the basis of traffic volume so future proposals, such as the redevelopment of Don Valley Stadium and the brown field sites on either side of the junction, would appear to have no chance at all if we are consistent with our decision making.
“Therefore, we have to ask why the LTB proposals do not address this problem once and for all?
“We accept there are schemes on the list which will help, but we need something that re-instates three lanes on the viaduct and solves the issues at the roundabouts which are the major constraint.
“There is work already approved to open up the hard shoulder around Junction 34, so in the future we will actually go from four lanes to two over the viaduct! Does that really seem sensible?”
Tim Hale, chair of the Chamber’s Transport Forum and Champion Hire, said:
“We have to be more ambitious. Our job is not to object to proposals because of the traffic problems, but to help increase capacity and anticipate the growth we are all working so hard to achieve.
“The new road crossing under the viaduct will certainly help, but it is the viaduct which is the main bottleneck.
“We have to devise a new scheme which either replaces it or enhances it and the junction to cope with the increase in the future.”