The Department for Transport has published a study that will push forward the UK government’s plans to build the world’s longest road tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield.
The Trans-Pennine tunnel, which will be between 10 and 18 miles long, would cut commutes between Manchester and Sheffield by 30 minutes.
The study, which was released on Thursday (August 18), outlines five possible routes for the tunnel:
All five routes join the M60 east of Manchester to the M1 north of Sheffield, with four options starting at the M67. Depending on which route is chosen, it could become the longest road tunnel in the world.
The Department for Transport described the scheme as “the most ambitious road scheme undertaken in the UK in more than five decades” in a statement about the project.
The tunnel — which would cost around £6 billion, according to the Telegraph — is part of the government’s next phase of road improvements, and funds for the schemes will be allocated in 2020.
Though the tunnel would cost a lot of money to build, it would also help improve the economy, John Cridland, Chairman of Transport for the North, said in the same statement from the Department of Transport.
“The study shows a tunnel beneath the Pennines would both boost the economy of the region, and potentially benefit the environment of the Peak District by reducing traffic in the national park,” Cridland said.
The proposed tunnel is just one of the ways the government is looking to bolster the economy through infrastructure. Theresa May gave strong support to the “Northern Powerhouse,” a proposal to boost economic growth in core northern cities like Leeds, Sheffield, and Manchester, on Thursday. She wrote in the Yorkshire Post that her plan is to “help the great cities and towns of the north pool their strengths and take on the world.”
The government will “make massive improvements to transport, making it easier to get around, and more attractive for business to move here,” May wrote.
May also pledged that the government will invest £24 million in British Cycling’s bid to host the World Road Championships in 2019.
“The Government will underwrite the event and back it with £24m of investment so that we can get even more people to visit the region,” said May. “Our backing will include £15m for cycling infrastructure projects, to encourage even greater participation in the sport and continue the proud legacy that has seen our athletes excel at the Rio Games.”
The tunnel could steal the title of the world’s longest road tunnel from Lædar Tunnel in Norway, which stretches 15.3 miles, and connects the cities of Læligrdal and Aurland.
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