THE PROSPECT of a new road tunnel connecting South Yorkshire and Manchester looks to be in doubt after it was revealed the project could cost up to £12bn.
The figure is double the previous estimate for the project to build an 18-mile tunnel which was championed by former chancellor George Osborne.
The chief executive of Transport for the North (TfN), the body developing the idea, has now described it as “very expensive”.
Mr Osborne earmarked £75m in his final Budget as chancellor to develop the transpennine tunnel idea and a number of potential routes have been identified.
But there has been considerable scepticism in Yorkshire over whether the will ever get off the drawing board.
Previous estimates have put the likely cost at around £6bn but the latest study estimates the bill at between £7.8bn and £11.6bn.
David Brown, chief executive of Transport for the North, said, “The Trans-Pennine Tunnel Study has found that there are no insurmountable geological barriers to building a tunnel and that a new strategic road link between Manchester and Sheffield would bring economic benefits.
“However, this would be a very expensive and long-term project. Work is now continuing to fully understand potential user benefits and disadvantages so that an informed decision can be made.”
The latest details of the transpennnine tunnel were released as the Government confirmed plans to dual the length of the A66 connecting North Yorkshire and Penrith.
Money will be provided to develop the case for renewing the Sheffield Supertram and to draw up plans for transport improvements between Sheffield and Rotherham to try and cut congetsion aat junctions 33 and 34 on the M1.
The Government will also make money available for seven schemes to upgrade existing roads across Yorkshire to improve road safety.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The schemes announced today are focused on relieving congestion and providing important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future - removing the barriers to help make an economy that works for everyone.”