Residents' doubt over plans to ease congestion and improve air quality on Sheffield Parkway
Planned changes to Sheffield Parkway will ease congestion and improve air quality, the man in charge of the project insisted, but residents believe they could just make the problem worse.
Dozens of residents turned out to see and hear more about the £40 million proposals to add an extra lane between Catcliffe and the M1 interchange at junction 33 at a consultation event at The Centre, in Brinsworth.
The Government has tasked officials with reducing pollution along the dual carriageway, which straddles Sheffield and Rotherham and the plans would also see the 50mph speed limit extended between the M1 and Handsworth Road junction, which currently has a 70mph limit.
Ian Ashmore, head of transport at Rotherham Borough Council, which is running the scheme, said: "The ultimate aim is to reduce congestion and improve air quality from Catcliffe to junction 33 of the M1.
"The scheme puts an additional lane in each direction but within the existing boundary. This will be achieved by having slightly narrower lanes but which will be within smart motorway regulations."
Mr Ashmore said the 50mph speed limit would help 'smooth' the traffic flow and improve air quality.
He added that works would be carried out in four phases, with two lanes of traffic maintained during 'peak times' throughout the works.
Mr Ashmore said: "The process is that a business case is to be submitted to the Department for Transport and that should go in around October. They will probably take around three months to review it so we are hoping to get approval after Christmas.
"There is a funding stream already allocated but, obviously, the Department for Transport, have to be certain they are getting value for money with the public purse."
Subject to funding being approved, works on the scheme would begin in March and take around 18 months.
Mr Ashmore said: "It's probably the bigger scheme we have ever done in Rotherham from a cost point of view and today is really important because although we have held stakeholder events, this is the first public consultation.
"We wanted to get to a stage where we could should people drawings and visuals. It's better to have some visuals rather than just trying to talk people through it."
But people living near the Parkway said they weren't convinced by the proposals.
Martin Bamforth, who has lived in Catcliffe for 16 years, said: "I think it's just going to be more congestion because I use the Parkway on a regular basis and it can horrendous.
"It's more space for more traffic to stand still. We are going to be surrounded it's bad enough now.
"They should also consider sound barriers like there is on the M1 near Wakefield because it is really bad where we live."
Sue Fox, also of Catcliffe, disputed whether drivers would stick to the 50mph limit outside of peak times.
She said: "From Handsworth to Sheffield is supposed to be 50mph and nobody sticks to it - this is just going to be the same.
"Where we were once surrounded by fields, I now just feel like we are being swamped."