WSP has been chosen to lead a study into transforming connections between Sheffield and Rotherham to maximise growth in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID).
The city region hopes this innovation corridor, which is home to new factories from McLaren and Boeing, could become the UK’s largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.
The main focus of the study is to look at ways to reduce pressure on both J33 and J34 of the M1 by exploring alternatives for local traffic. These could potentially include additional routes between Sheffield and Rotherham that would remove the need for drivers to pass through existing motorway junctions.
Mike Holmes, technical director at WSP told Transport Network: 'We have been commissioned to lead a £1.24m feasibility study, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), into capacity issues at Junctions 33 and 34 of the M1.
'The DfT has set a minimum spend on major transport projects such as this of £75m, although we are in an early stage of the process in exploring solutions in this case.'
Improved transport links in the area would facilitate business expansion and support growth around the nearly 4,000 new homes at Waverley and further commercial developments at the Sheffield Airport Business Park.
Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of highways and transport at Sheffield City Council said: '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.’
In November last year, Sheffield City Council announced a £1.4m programme to improve capacity around the two junctions of the M1. The latest study, which is expected to last 18 months, is supported by Highways England and the Sheffield City Region LEP support the WSP study.
WSP said it 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 DfT through its Large Local Major Scheme Fund, as announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement’.
The final report will be presented to the Sheffield City Region who will submit the outline business case to the DfT next year. A detailed design and formal planning process will follow.