£6 billion tunnel to solve Longdendale traffic congestion?

The government is "driving forward the northern powerhouse by completing the smart motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds, together with improvements to transpennine capacity from Manchester to Sheffield, representing the first increase in transpennine capacity since 1971"  For Glossop this means a £170 million bypass from the A57 at Brookfield Glossop to the M67 roundabout in Hattersley, a feasibility study for a £6 billion tunnel under Woodhead and renewed consultation on the Longdendale bypass.

What politicians have said about road improvements planned for Glossopdale and what has been reported in the media are a bit different, causing widespread confusion about the "bypass" promises made by the government on social media. According to the Manchester Evening News, the government had promised to create "a long-awaited Mottram-by-pass to ease congestion in villages such as Mottram, Tintwistle and Hollingworth. That is part of an upgrade to the Woodhead Pass." The Glossop spur proposed has nothing to do with Woodhead and is unlikely to have much impact  on traffic north of the Gun Inn. The confusion between the "Mottram Bypass" (which is going ahead) and the A57/A628 Mottram-in-Longdendale, Hollingworth & Tintwistle Bypass (which isn't) appears widespread on social media. In the week the spur road plan was announced the Wikipedia entry on Longdendale Bypass was altered anonymously to read "After nearly fifty years, the road scheme was approved by the Highways Agency on 2 December 2014".

The Longdendale bypass is a saga that has spanned generations. First proposed around 1971, at one stage it was announced that work would start on the project in the Spring of 2013. But a public inquiry started in 2007 was repeatedly delayed by the Highways Authority, who finally withdrew from the inquiry in 2009.  Costs for the original project had been £90 million in 2003, and had risen to £240–£315m in 2008, less than twice what is now required just for the spur roads. According to the Manchester Evening News the Highways Agency spent £20m promoting and researching the plans.
Costs for the Glossop Spur road were estimated at £7 million in 2000, £11 million in 2008 and £100 in 2010. The Highways Authority already own much of the land required for the project. All High Peak and Tameside MPs, and almost all parliamentary candidates, have been strong supporters of the Longdendale bypass plan for many years.

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham quoted George Osbourne as saying
"I am committing at least £170 million to address traffic issues through Mottram and build a brand new link road for the people of Glossop. These projects have been brought to my attention by the hard work of Andrew Bingham, the Conservative MP for the High Peak, who has championed the need for vital investment in the road network in his constituency."

Andrew Bingham said:“I’m naturally very pleased that the Prime Minister gave such an unequivocal assurance that if elected in 2015, a Conservative Government would deliver this.
“I know that there has been some scepticism since the announcement about whether it will actually happen, and I can understand that, given that the previous Government formally cancelled their scheme in July 2009 and earlier schemes were also scrapped. However, I strongly believe that the Government have done everything they can – including committing the money – to assure people that a future Conservative Government will get it built.”
“If I am still the MP after the General Election in May, I will continue to push hard to see it gets built as soon as possible, as well as fighting for the extension to Tintwistle so that residents of the village also see the benefit from this.
“I can assure all residents, both of Tintwistle and the rest of Glossopdale, that while I am delighted to have got the assurances we have, this is still work in progress to me. We need to engage all of the Glossopdale area with the consultation when it takes place, in order to get the extension. As long as I am the MP for the High Peak I will not rest until we see the road built.”

Labour’s Caitlin Bisknell gave a cautious welcome to the announcement of £170m funding package for the Glossop spur and Mottram Moor link road.
“With so many Glossop people - around 75% - working outside Derbyshire any scheme like the Glossop spur which helps people get to and from work more easily and opens up new opportunities for local businesses has to be welcomed.
However, what Glossopdale needs is a scheme which relieves the bottleneck completely, not one has the potential to make matters worse, not better, for some residents.
My worry is that this scheme might just to push the traffic jam further back down the road into Tintwistle which will just add to misery of people living on the road, exacerbating the already unacceptable levels of noise and pollution posed by heavy traffic rumbling past their front doors every day. They must await the results of a feasibility study into the trans-Pennine tunnel.
Along with Glossopdale residents I look forward to finding out more about the exact route proposed, the timetable and the feasibility study – and the potential impact on local roads.”
Derbyshire County Councillor Dave Wilcox said: “In 35 years as a local councillor I have seen secretaries of state and governments come and go, and a catalogue of announcements which have raised expectations but subsequently led to only marginal improvements.
“On behalf of the majority of people in Glossopdale I now want to see the planning consents approved and construction underway – and look forward to cracking open a bottle of Mouselow Ale to celebrate!”.

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