The newly proposed Manchester-Sheffield link beneath the Pennines would be the first major cross-Pennines link since the M62 motorway came into existence in the early 1970s.
Creating a link spanning the Pennines has always presented a tough challenge, partly because of heavy costs, environmental impacts and a sheer lack of ambition.
Currently, there are three unsavory options: first, the 75-mile-long freeway route that involves taking the M1 the wrong way, almost to Leeds, prior to joining the congested M62 over the Pennines.
A couple of other routes are also present, viz. the Woodhead Pass and the Snake Pass. These routes are more direct but take the would-be traveler on single track, winding routes through the high moorland.
The M67, which often called “the motorway to nowhere,” is a good example of travelers’ frustration who dares to cross the Pennines. From the M60 Manchester ring road, it heads off towards the Pennine hills and Yorkshire beyond. But, it stops abruptly at a roundabout in Hyde after just five miles.
The new proposal suggests a tunnel under the Pennines. The Department for Transport (DoT) revealed that it was exploring the viability of a new road link between Sheffield and Manchester in Dec. 2014.
Making the announcement, the DoT said, “Such a connection could have a dramatic impact on the economy of the north, particularly in combination with plans for high speed rail links. It would be capable of fundamentally changing the nature of the journey between two of the most important cities of the north.”
Now, Chancellor George Osborne is reportedly set to provide £75 million for development of a plan to link Sheffield and Manchester through a tunnel under the Pennines.