UK’s M60 motorway set to get ‘missing link’ junction

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The only motorway in England which drivers need to come off to continue their journey on the same motorway could be about to get its missing link.

The anomaly was created when the M60 was formed 20 years ago, connecting several existing motorways with a new stretch of motorway to form a 36-mile ring road around Manchester. The current set up means drivers travelling eastbound on the M60 at junction 18 near Prestwich, known locally as Simister Island, soon find themselves on the M62 on their way to Leeds if they don’t use a roundabout to reach the southbound section of the M60.

Highways England is now developing plans to cut journey times for the 90,000 drivers who use the junction every day to travel between the M60, M62 and M66. Drivers, residents and business owners will be able to have their say on the proposals in a new eight-week public consultation which launches today (Monday 22 June).

A new link road could take drivers in a loop from the eastbound to the southbound M60.

One of the options being considered involves creating a new link road in a loop from the eastbound to the southbound M60 so that drivers travelling clockwise could continue their journeys without leaving the M60. A virtual reality video has been released showing how the new link road could look.

“We want to provide quicker and more reliable journeys for drivers across the North,” says Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England’s chief executive. “Simister Island is one of England’s busiest motorway junctions, and the improvements we’re planning will make it easier for people travelling between the M60, M62 and M66. We now need your views to help make that much-needed motorway upgrade a reality.”

“Today’s announcement is a step forwards in making the M60 easier to use, less confusing and more efficient for drivers,” says UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “I welcome this vital improvement which has the potential to cut journey times, improve reliability and boost businesses in the North.”

Highways England is encouraging as many people as possible to share their views in the pubic consultation over the next eight weeks to help develop the designs for the motorway upgrade.

Other proposals being put forward as part of the consultation include creating a new two-lane link road for drivers travelling from the northbound to the westbound stretches of the M60 at Simister Island, as well as a new link road from the eastbound M60 onto the northbound M66.

The hard shoulder could also be converted to a permanent extra lane along the mile-long stretch of the M60 between junctions 17 and 18 to improve the flow of traffic, providing five lanes in both directions.

The Simister Island junction is used by around 90,000 vehicles every day.

Highways England is changing the way it carries out consultations during the Covid-19 pandemic, and is no longer holding face-to-face public events.

The organisation will instead arrange a series of telephone and online chats, where people will be able to speak directly to a member of the project team. Almost 10,000 consultation brochures are also being posted to homes and businesses near Simister Island.

You can find out more about the proposals and complete a consultation response form at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/m60-j18-simister-island.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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