Members received details reported by the Traffic and Transportation Manager concerning the following highways improvement projects, both within the Rotherham Borough area and in the wider region:-
(A) M1 Junction 33 (and A630 Rotherway) – this highway improvement scheme is promoted by the Highways Agency and supported by this Council and by Sheffield City Council and has been very successful. The problem of traffic congestion and lengthy queues, on the approach to the Rotherway roundabout from Canklow, has recently improved because of the opening of a second lane within the A630 carriageway. Some re-phasing of the traffic signals at the Whiston crossroads (A631 West Bawtry Road), programmed to be implemented early in 2015, will assist in improving the vehicle capacity of that highway junction and should also reduce traffic queuing on the A618 Pleasley Road, Whiston.
(B) Pool Green roundabout (Centenary Way/Main Street/Masbrough Street, Rotherham) – the scheme to replace the roundabout with a signal-controlled, crossroads junction has reached its half-way stage, in terms of length of time and is expected to be completed on time in April/May 2015. Every endeavour is being made to minimise traffic disruption.
(C) A630 Centenary Way, Rotherham – there will be some re-phasing of the traffic signals at the junction of Centenary Way, Drummond Street, the Transport Interchange and the access road into the supermarket car park, because of the additional vehicular traffic generated by the recent opening of the new Tesco supermarket. A further road safety audit will be undertaken after completion of these works, by which time the supermarket will have been open for several weeks.
(D) ‘Smart’ Motorways project (M1 Junction 32 to Junction 35A) – the Highways Agency will begin work on this project in March 2015 and construction works are expected to last 18 months. There will be four lanes of the M1 motorway running at all times, from Junction 32 (the M1/M18 intersection) as far as Junction 35A (leading to the Stocksbridge bypass). The original proposal for the 60 mph vehicle speed limit on this section of the M1 has been rejected by the Minister for Transport, although the possible use of variable speed limits is still under consideration. The scheme has to ensure that the air quality in this area must not be made worse, especially that affecting the Air Quality Management Area around Tinsley.
(E) Recent announcement (November 2014) by the coalition Government about proposals to improve the transportation links between the major cities in the North of England, which would be subject to the provision of Government funding – the announcement had highlighted a number of initial suggestions for Trans-Pennine highway improvements between Sheffield and Manchester, particularly affecting the A628 Woodhead Pass:-
: A new road to bypass Mottram Moor – an initial prediction that this scheme might be completed as early as 2022 might be considered to be optimistic, as any public inquiry would necessarily cause delays;
: provision of crawler lanes along the A628; eg: eastbound in the direction of Barnsley and Sheffield;
: the construction of an additional, short section of dual carriageway along the A61 at Tankersley (between the Westwood roundabout and M1 Junction 36);
: a feasibility study of the possible construction of a tunnel across the Pennines; this tunnel, if constructed, may become the longest road tunnel in Europe and will be an extremely expensive project.
(F) Tram-Train Rapid Transit scheme (linking Sheffield, Rotherham and Parkgate) - modifications required to the Rotherham Central railway station will include height alterations at the College Road bridge. This scheme may begin during late 2015 and will occur after completion of the Centenary Way/Main Street/Masbrough Street (Pool Green) junction improvement. However, the bridge alterations may require the temporary closure of College Road to facilitate the works.