DRIVERS are being warned that work was today starting on one of South Yorkshire's biggest-ever road improvement schemes.
The notorious A631 West Bawtry Road between Whiston crossroads and Rotherway roundabout at Canklow is being upgraded at a cost of more than 5 million.
The crossroads - a well-known accident blackspot - will be made safer and the whole of the M1/M18 link will become a dual carriageway.
The changes are expected to speed up traffic flow and help ease serious congestion, particularly at peak times.
But for the next 12 months motorists are being warned of severe problems if they do not find another route. The roadworks coincide with work on the M1 which is already causing congestion.
The road scheme will also mean the closure of Long Lane which connects West Bawtry Road with Treeton and Catcliffe.
It also means the felling of part of Canklow Wood, and around 20 residents in West Bawtry Road will lose part of their gardens for road widening.
Rotherham Council and contractor Birse have been involved in talks for some time on trying to avoid serious traffic problems, particularly at peak times, because West Bawtry Road is a main route into both Rotherham and Sheffield.
Special information leaflets have been prepared, along with advance warning signs to let motorists know what is happening and with details of alternative routes.
Highways engineers say Whiston crossroads, the scene of numerous serious accidents, will still be controlled by traffic lights but the new system will be highly sophisticated and should make the crossroads safer.