An eight week consultation is to be launched today by Highways England on providing the M60 with a ‘missing link’ to ensure drivers continue on the road instead of moving to the M62 often without realising.
At the moment all drivers travelling eastbound at junction 18 easily find themselves on the M62 towards Leeds if they do not use a roundabout on the southbound entry to the M60.
One of the options now being considered by Highways England to solve the problem at the area know as Simister Island, 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.
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, 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.
A preferred option for the scheme is due to be announced in the winter once the consultation responses have been considered and, if the project is approved by the government, construction work could start by 2024.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England’s chief executive, said: “We want to provide quicker and more reliable journeys for drivers across the North. Simister Island is one of England’s busiest motorway junctions, and the improvements we are 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”
Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director at Transport for the North, said: “Simister Island is a well-known anomaly in the area which causes delay and disruption for thousands of vehicles every day. It is included in our Northern Infrastructure Pipeline as a vital scheme for improving road connections in the North West, and on completion the upgrade will better serve local traffic and improve reliability for east-west journeys across our region. This consultation is welcome news as the next stage in progressing this scheme and we urge everyone to give their views.”