Motorists and traders have been warned of ‘several summers’ of traffic chaos in Sheffield – after plans were unveiled to replace rails on the 20-year-old Supertram network.
The multi-million pound project will see all the track replaced along on-street sections, as well as at level crossings where trams run off-road.
Sections of route where work will take place include Middlewood andMalin Bridge to Shalesmoor, University to Fitzalan Square, Norfolk Park to White Lane, Birley Lane to Crystal Peaks and Gleadless Townend to Herdings Park.
Level crossings will also be affected at points between the city centre and Meadowhall, and at Granville Road.
Stagecoach Supertram and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive say they want to keep disruption ‘to a minimum’ – but accept that some problems will be inevitable.
Worst-hit areas are set to include Hillsborough, parts of the city centre such as West Street, where buses will have to be diverted, City Road and along the outer ring road between Manor Top, Gleadless Townend and Herdings Park.
Ben Still, SYPTE joint-interim director-general, said: “The intention is for work to start this summer in a phased delivery through Sheffield.
“The PTE and Stagecoach are working closely to minimise disruption. Work will take place on different parts of the system on different weeks.
“It’s a multi-year programme, which will take several summers.
“While nobody likes disruption, I hope people would welcome the fact the tram system is being kept to the best quality standard.”
Replacement bus services will operate on affected stretches of route.Full details of the programme, including the timetable for work, are to be released next week.
Under the plan, only the rails will be dug up and replaced and the concrete base will not be removed.
Mr Still said the work cannot take place in winter due to the risk of frost so would be for ‘several summers’.
As a result, disruption for each stretch will only be days not months, unlike when the lines were built in the early 1990s.
However, businesses in Hillsborough are worried about the impact on trade, after many businesses in the area were forced to close due to the drop in trade in the disruption when Supertram was built. Nicholas Pearson, joint owner of EW Pearson butchers, Middlewood Road, Hillsborough, said: “It won’t be as big a job as when the tram was laid in the first place, which had a vast impact, although there will be problems. But if it’s got to be done, it’s one of those things. Of more concern are the parking restrictions and charges which were brought in to this area last year. Tickets are being issued left, right and centre and I think they are having an impact on trade.”
Gillian Smith, of bakery Those Finishing Touches, Holme Lane, Hillsborough Corner, said: “I wasn’t here through the original works to build Supertram, but someone came into the shop the other day saying they had a thriving business until the tram came, and the disruption closed it down.
“I’m a glass-half-full person, though. I’d like to know how many days the work will take place outside my shop and whether the whole road will be closed. I need access for customers to collect orders and also for deliveries.”
SYPTE and Supertram said residents and businesses on affected routes will be given full details before work takes place.