Sheffield’s £65m ring road too slow

Richard Wright, Executive Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Richard Wright, Executive Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
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It cost £65 million and was supposed to reduce congestion in Sheffield’s traffic-choked city centre.

But figures obtained by The Star show some journeys on the new section of inner relief road from Shalesmoor to the Parkway are taking twice as long as the old route.

Just over six years after the new road was completed, business leaders say it is not good enough and will need extra investment to relieve bottlenecks.

They are also concerned about the number of traffic lights - which has substantially more sets than the former route via West Bar.

Sheffield Council’s own figures show morning peak time journeys between 8am and 9am along the new inner ring road took seven minutes and four seconds - almost four minutes longer than the three minutes and 20 seconds on the old route.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “All these traffic lights do not appear to let traffic flow.

“The old road was not good enough - but these figures would indicate we haven’t got it right now either.

“A lot of the feedback I get from my transport forum is we haven’t got it right.”

Mr Wright added: “The big worry is if the economy picks up and we need to get more people into the city centre, that means more traffic because most travel by road.

“Then there are the plans to have the high speed rail station at Victoria, which I support, but it will inevitably lead to more traffic.”

He called for investment to tackle bottlenecks along the new route.

“The extra traffic cannot be allowed to flow smoothly without extra investment,” he said.

Sheffield Council provided figures to The Star for three journey time counts in the morning peak, and three in the afternoon, with information for 2003 and 2007 on the old route, and 2010 on the new road.

There are no more recent figures available.

The new road is 2.034km long, whereas the old route was 1.372km.

On four out of the six counts, journeys on the new road were substantially slower, while there was little difference between the 2003 and 2007 figures for the old route.

The Government predicts a 44 per cent increase in traffic in the next 25 years as the economy recovers and population grows. Sheffield’s population is due to increase 10 per cent by the end of the decade.

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “The data we hold is from ‘moving observer surveys’, where a vehicle is driven along the specified route and the times recorded at set points.

“Obviously the issue with this type of data is the sample size tends to be very low, and it will only be for the day the survey took place.”