It was hailed as a major boost to business in Doncaster, and something to slash commuter journey times.
And 12 months on since the Great Yorkshire Way link road between the M18 and Doncaster Sheffield Airport, the route has made its mark the borough.
The three-mile stretch of road between Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the M18 in the west has been open for 12 months.
It opened with hopes that the benefits of the road would stay in the county for years to come.
Now it is estimated that more than five million vehicles have used the road, and it is helping passengers take to the skies, too.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport bosses say they have had a fantastic year since the road opened, and, according to the chief executive of the airport, Steve Gill, that’s down to the road.
“Great Yorkshire Way is delivering greatly enhanced connectivity to the Sheffield city region’s airport, placing DSA within minutes of the UK’s major motorway network and bringing global business closer to Sheffield’s £30 billion economy,” Mr Gill said.
“Since the opening of the M18 Junction Three motorway link road, we have seen impressive planned growth with increased capacity from our incumbent airlines Thomson and Wizz and our new partnership with Flybe.
“This gateway to the Sheffield city region is truly transformational and the new road is proving to be a huge draw for passengers, adds to our cargo offer and its wider role as a catalyst for attracting inward investment to the region.”
The £56 million link road was forecast to boost business - and it has seen new firms confirm the will locate at the iPort rail freight development.
It promises to deliver 5,000 jobs to the region.
The road has also had a significant impact on the number of visitors at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, with journey time from the M18 reduced by some 10-15 minutes. Improved signage has also helped, says YWP boss Cheryl Williams. She said: “This impact will continue as we estimate that around 800,000 extra potential visitors now live within the two hour drive time to the park, which has extended our customer base. In 2016, YWP welcomed a record breaking 761,000 visitors.”
The former mining village of Rossington has benefited from the route. For the first time it has a direct link to the nearby M18 junction three.
Parish council chairman Barry Johnson said the road has drastically reduced the commute from Rossington to Doncaster. A 25 minute journey has been more than halved for Mr Johnson.
He can now be at Doncaster Railway Station in 12 minutes. “That’s going at a normal pace, doing the speed limit,” he said.
The notorious ‘Cantley Crawl’ on Bawtry Road is said to be a thing of the past, thanks to the link road.
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones looked forward to the benefits of the road for many years to come. She said: “We always said Great Yorkshire Way would be a game changer and deliver jobs and growth for Doncaster and the wider economy and it is doing exactly that.
“No one can argue with the evidence that this major infrastructure scheme is a real success story.
“Doncaster Sheffield Airport is enjoying remarkable growth, iPort is developing out at a rapid rate of knots and the new homes are being snapped up.
“As well as the vast economic benefits, which will see thousands of new jobs and homes created.
“The difference this road has made for people living in Doncaster is tremendous, with the direct access onto the motorway network reducing their journey times significantly.”
Harron Housing has built 33 and sold 33 new homes. and is building 41 more at the Torne Park development.
Taylor Wimpey is also on the former Rossington Colliery site, preparing foundations for the first of 96 homes.
Duncan Armstrong-Payne, associate director of Harworth Group plc, said the new road was key to that scheme.
“Having two leading housebuilders at Torne Park is a real sign of confidence in a scheme that was only unlocked through the completion of Great Yorkshire Way,” he said.
“As the site will be developed out over the next 10 years, locals can expect to see over 1,200 homes, a small number of supporting retail and commercial units and the full restoration of the former spoil heap. Doncaster Council are continuing to be extremely supportive in helping bring forward the development and their commitment to regenerating this part of the Borough should be applauded.”
A new shuttle bus service has been launched from Doncaster town centre to the airport to cope with demand. The X4 service has had more than 40,000 customers since the launch in September 2016.
First South Yorkshire’s head of commercial, Allan Riggall, said other towns’ residents had also benefited.
“It has also provided faster journeys to and from Rossington for the 55 and 56 services,” he said.
Some Doncaster motorists still prefer to use the older roads, though.
Comments on Facebook last week said there were still busy spots nearby, which were caused by the new road.
“It has made it worse getting out of Littleworth Lane in busy times, you get stuck for ages,” Crissy Johnson said. “It’s easier to go the long way around by Parrott’s Corner.”
Mark Utting said it has improved the journey down Bawtry Road for those who don’t want to use the new road.
He added: “It still causes mass confusion for people on which lane to get in, for some reason.”