Congestion-busting work to ease traffic on Sheffield’s second busiest road - used by almost 60,000 people a day – will start soon after plans been given the green light.
Proposals for Penistone Road, including a new bus lane and an increased 40mph speed limit on one section, will go ahead after traffic orders were approved.
The £5 million scheme is now expected to start in June, despite objections concerning air quality, cycling and pedestrian facilities.
Rob Prior, of the Sheffield Motorists Forum, welcomed the news as a way to open up the city for business.
He said: “Anything that speeds up traffic flow in the city is fantastic.
“Every junction and exit route from the city has a knock-on effect on the inner ring road.
“Even if you are coming in from the Parkway, when you get to that Netherthorpe junction, if Penistone Road isn’t flowing, it is very congested.”
The speed limit change will apply from Infirmary Road to Capel Street, a stretch currently with a 30mph limit.
Changes also include converting the Leppings Lane roundabout to traffic signals, as a new Sainsbury’s superstore is to be built nearby.
Traffic signals will be improved, the carriageway widened, and the right turn at Hillsborough Barracks prohibited to give ‘more green signal time’ to traffic.
Sheffield Council has been awarded £3 million towards the project from the Government’s Local Pinch Point Fund, which aims to remove bottlenecks on the highway network.
A sum of £1.24m from a South Yorkshire wide bus initiative will also boost the initiative.
It is hoped the scheme - which was previously delayed because of a failed funding bid – will improve access to businesses and development sites along the Upper Don Valley.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport, said: “Penistone Road is a major transport corridor - after the Parkway probably the most significant in the city.
“Inevitably we have got to try to balance public transport, cycling and walking as well.
“It should help to improve congestion and give an extra bus lane that is additional to the current layout, without taking any capacity away from cars.
“The changes to Leppings Lane roundabout are significant but we have been wanting to do them for a while because it is extremely busy and doesn’t really function at peak times.”
Concerns about the impact of the new speed limit on air quality and safety were raised at the highway cabinet member decision session.
Green councillor Jillian Creasey said increasing the speed limit conflicted with a new green commission and cycling report that aimed to get people to use more bikes.
Cyclist Matt Turner, of Hillsborough, gave a multi-media presentation and said getting rid of one crossing in the scheme would mean ‘hundreds’ of college students crowding to another, much busier, one.
He told the meeting: “This has not considered walking and cycling at the same level that you’ve considered motoring traffic.”
Deferring the speed limit decision to another date was considered, but the plans were approved after officers said there was limited time available to use the money.
The scheme also includes changes to cycling and pedestrian facilities.