A57 scheme gets the green light

A57 Todwick Crossroads.
A57 Todwick Crossroads.

Work on major improvements to the A57 near Todwick could begin in late summer after the Secretary of State for Transport approved the scheme.

Rotherham Council were told on Wednesday that statutory orders needed to build the improvements on the one mile stretch of road had been granted following a public inquiry last October.

The plans will see the A57 transformed into a dual carriageway from junction 31 of the M1 to the Todwick Crossroads, which will be replaced by a roundabout and a new 50mph speed limit introduced.

Drivers will no longer be able to turn right into Goosecarr Lane, despite objectors telling the inquiry that this will force residents to travel hundreds of miles extra every year and deviate around 2,000 cars past the entrance to Todwick Primary.

Coun Gerald Smith, cabinet member for Town Centres, Economic Growth and Prosperity for Rotherham Council, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ because it brings the actual building of the much needed dual carriageway one step closer.

He added: “This has been a long and frustrating process but the Secretary of State for Transport confirmed on Wednesday the statutory orders required for the building of the A57 major highway scheme following the public inquiry last October.”

“It means that the authority is now one major step closer to seeing the implementation of this long-awaited scheme. It really is needed because it will address both the road safety and congestion problems that have troubled this stretch of road, which is an important highway in the Borough. It carries high levels of traffic so needs to be as safe as possible and it is also vital for continued local regeneration.”

“The council can now apply for final approval from the Department for Transport for their £11.8 million contribution to the scheme cost of £14.7 million.”

“It will improve a 2.5 km stretch of road that runs between Todwick Crossroads and Junction 31 of the M1.”

“So, with a fair wind behind us, construction will hopefully start this year - in the late summer. By Christmas 2013, a significant piece of new highway infrastructure should have been added to the local highway network.”

The Todwick Residents Group, who gave evidence at the inquiry, campaigned for three things - to retain the right turn into Goosecarr Lane, get a 50mph speed limit and a pelican crossing.

Member Jack Cloke, who thanked local residents for their support, said: “We have been given two out of the three and although the retention of the right turn facility was our main aim, two out of three is not a bad average.”

He added: “The right turn facility has been in existence for 160 years and for many residents is part of the daily routine. To deviate an additional 2,000 vehicles per day past the entrance to the village school and early years creche is in my opinion foolish in the extreme.”

“In addition residents of Goosecarr Lane will have to drive collectively an additional 23,520 miles per year just to reach their home. This vast increase will involve a great deal of cost, inconvenience, time and CO2 emissions.”

“The right turn facility could easily have been retained and incorporated into RMBC plans will minimal cost. Three short filter lanes, a gap in the central reservation and a set of traffic lights would have sufficed.”

But in his report to the Secretary of State for Transport inspector Martin Whitehead, who chaired the public inquiry, said: “I am satisfied that sufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate that a right turn at Goosecarr Lane cannot be justified in terms of extra cost, delay and risk to highway safety on the A57.”

Todwick Parish councillor Brian White said: “Whilst most people in Todwick know that our stretch of the A57 is an accident blackspot area and support a road improvement, they will be bitterly disappointed that the right turn access into Goosecarr Lane has not been maintained.”

“All that was requested was a simple filter lane into Goosecarr - exactly the same as has been constructed on Bawtry Road. The cost would have been minimal. Some residents now will be committed to travelling hundreds of miles extra each year just to get home.”

Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron said: “As I have argued for these improvements since the mid-1980s, I am glad that they have now finally been given the go ahead.”