Highways England has appointed WSP to build the strategic case for the trans-Pennine tunnel ahead of the road operator announcing its second road investment strategy (RIS2).
WSP is undertaking a technical study called the “Trans-Pennine Tunnel Study” which will look at the tunnel as well as improvements to connecting parts of the strategic road network.
WSP has already worked with Highways England and Transport for the North (TfN) on TfN’s draft Strategic Transport Plan, which included plans for a shorter tunnel than originally proposed, combined with major upgrades to the Woodhead Pass route and new road links east of Sheffield.
“If a stronger case can be made for this package of schemes then this may be the single most important transport intervention to help accelerate the economic growth by bringing closer together two of the north’s great cities,” said WSP project director Nasar Malik.
Because the route goes through the Peak District National Park, WSP said this latest study will embed environmental design considerations from the start, which will include involving Highways England’s design panel. WSP has also brought on board a specialist contractor to double check estimated costs of the project.
Malik said: “This study essentially flows from the recommendations we made on the TfN Wider Connectivity study in 2017.”
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