The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has expressed serious alarm at the urgent calls that have been made to replace the ageing M1 Tinsley Viaduct.
Sheffield Councillors are calling on the government to consider replacing the viaduct before high speed rail plans mean it can never be replaced.
Sheffield Council and MPs fear the 45-year-old double-deck structure, which carries the motorway and junction 34 across the Lower Don Valley, will deteriorate to the point it has to be rebuilt.
They want the Government to act now since replacing the viaduct in the future will be more complicated as the HS2 rail line is planned to go alongside it – meaning there would be no space for a new one.
The FSB’s regional chairman Gordon Millward said:
“The Tinsley Viaduct plays a major strategic role in the UK’s road transport network – it is essentially the main ‘bridge’ between the north and south on the central spine of the country’s road network.
“The councillors’ call for the government to consider replacing the viaduct causes us to question its long-term viability
“If there are doubts about its future beyond the 20 years of the HS2 project, then surely securing this vital north/south road link must take precedence over the construction of the HS2 vanity project.
“One dreads to consider what would be the economic and social ramifications if the viaduct – and therefore the M1 – were to be rendered permanently unusable.
“A fracturing of the M1 at its halfway point would not only be a catastrophe for the region, but would herald a national transport crisis of cataclysmic proportions.
“If the government can find £42 billion to build the HS2 white elephant, it should surely pay immediate attention to securing this vital north/south road transport link.
“If it is thought the structure is at risk, regardless of the advent of HS2, the time to act is now, since its replacement is bound to take twenty years for completion.”