WORK to create a one-way road system to reduce town centre-bound traffic is set to pick up pace and could be completed by the end of the year, Barnsley Council bosses have revealed.

A contractor for the A628 Dodworth Road scheme, which controversially cuts through Penny Pie Park, has been recently appointed, paving the way for a flurry of on-site activity.

Blighted by controversy since the local authority announced the road - which bosses say is essential due to tailbacks to junction 37 of the M1 - it culminated in a 2,700-signature petition against the road.

However, the local authority revealed on Wednesday that work can now commence following ground preparation and the appointment of the contractor.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “The next phase of the development has been carefully planned, with a lot of work taking place in recent months to get us to this stage, and we can now award the main works contract for the project.

“It’s vital that under the economic impacts we are all facing, this key project is delivered.

“This is not just a highways scheme, it will deliver significant improvements for people accessing our new town centre.

“It will provide better connectivity for our businesses and our residents, and push forward our plans for growth and a thriving local economy.

“We will be working closely with the appointed contractor to make sure any disruption is kept to a minimum, and we will be keeping residents informed of progress throughout the scheme.

“Ground stabilisation has been a key piece of work and we needed to get that right, to make sure we have the right structure in place to hold the traffic.

“We can’t stand still on major projects.”

Original estimates saw £4.3m set aside for its completion but a further £3.053m was granted before Christmas.

Campaigners - backed by Dodworth ward representative Coun Peter Fielding - have continued to call for an audit into the road’s budget.

He added: “There is a long history of infrastructure projects going well over budget.

“Councils are being urged to reconsider their infrastructure development in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic due to changes in traffic levels and working patterns.

“This is the ideal time to suspend the project and to then see if it is needed once things settle down after the pandemic rather than pushing ahead and spending money we can’t afford on something we might not need.

“The council’s expenditure on this has effectively gone up by 150 per cent. We always knew this would be a money pit and that’s clearly the case now.

“It’s either incompetence or dishonesty and the cash reserves the council will use could be better utilised elsewhere, especially so in times such as a pandemic.”