Manchester is set to benefit from the biggest increase in capacity on the region’s roads for 50 years after Highways England announced it plans to invest £1.5billion in the North West.
The government-owned company, which took over responsibility for England’s motorways and major A roads earlier this year, set out its five-year plan for the region at a launch event at the Macdonald hotel in Manchester yesterday.
Work will start on seven new smart motorway projects by 2020, in addition to the project currently taking place on the M62 and M60, cutting congestion and improving journey times for drivers.
Alan Shepherd, North West Regional Director at Highways England, said: “We’re investing £1.5 billion on improvements to the North West’s motorways and major A roads over the next five years, creating the biggest increase in capacity on the road network for 50 years.
“That includes nearly 80 miles of smart motorway where the hard shoulder will be converted into extra lanes and variable speed limits will be used to keep traffic moving.
“New bypasses and new and improved motorway junctions will also all help to tackle congestion, benefitting both businesses and local residents.
Manchester is set to be directly affected by two new schemes on the M62 that will link up with existing projects to create the biggest single stretch of smart motorway in the country, covering nearly 60 miles between the North West and Yorkshire.
Other schemes affecting the city include a bypasse on the A57 towards Sheffield, to tackle congestion near Mottram and Hollingworth in Tameside.
“It’s vital that we continue to improve the existing road network as well, which is why we’re investing £90 million this year alone on resurfacing, safety barriers and other maintenance projects,” Mr Shepherd said.
“The North West’s motorways and dual carriageways form the backbone for the region’s economy and this huge investment will ensure they remain healthy for many years to come.”
During 2015/16 alone, 130 miles of lanes on motorways and major A roads will be resurfaced, 40 miles of safety barriers will be installed, and 2,900 lighting columns will be upgraded.
Work on the North West’s first smart motorway began in July last year and affects a 17-mile stretch of the M60 and M62 in Greater Manchester. The £202 million project is due to be completed in autumn 2017.
Construction work on a £192 million project to build a new A556 link road between the M56 near Bowdon and the M6 near Knutsford also began last year and is due to be completed by winter 2016/17.
Jeremy Bloom, Highways England’s Major Projects Director for the North, said: “These schemes will bring significant long-term benefits to drivers on motorways and major A roads in the North West, as well as to the economy as a whole.
“The construction work will, of course, bring some disruption in the short term but we will ensure that we keep this to a minimum to keep traffic flowing.
“When the schemes are completed, road users will experience safer, more reliable and less congested journeys.”
More details on Highways England’s five-year plan are available here.
Image courtesy of the Highways Agency via FlickR, with thanks.