These are the five possible routes for a £1bn tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester labelled ‘crucial’ for business.
Highways England has put forward the options for the ‘Trans-Pennine Tunnel’, which would link the M1 in South Yorkshire with the M60 around Manchester, after an extensive analysis of finance, environmental impact and other factors.
The new road could cut journey times by up to 30 minutes. City leaders welcomed the update, but Highways England warned funding for the project - which would cost more than £1bn - is not guaranteed.
Martin McKervey, lead for transport on Sheffield city region’s local enterprise partnership, called the proposals a ‘very positive step forward’ for a project which would be ‘hugely beneficial for businesses’.
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore added: “Better connecting Sheffield and Manchester will help make a step change for our city regions, the north and the UK as a whole.”
And Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Peter Kennan said: “We also still need to be convinced, however, that Sheffield city centre would directly benefit without the addition of a new fast link road to the tunnel.”
The five proposed routes run through three ‘corridors’, joining the M1 at different spots between Sheffield and Barnsley. The tunnel under the Peak District could be as long as 20 miles - although may be just half that.
The options report said it was ‘reasonable to assume that construction, for any corridor, could take approximately 10 years’.
It said it was ‘not possible’ to come up with a figure for the cost, but it was safe to assume it would be ‘well in excess of £1bn’.
The report highlights several ‘key risks’, such as the fact ‘funding is not guaranteed’, strong objections are expected and the tunnel may not be chosen as a priority by Transport for the North, a group combining councils and local enterprise partnerships.
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