STRETCHES of the motorway network around Wigan borough may have their upper speed limits cut at peak times under a government scheme.
The Department of Transport’s ‘controlled motorways’ initiative could see speed limits on sections of the M6, M62 and M60 cut to 40mph and 50mph during busy periods.
The Highways Agency said it may want to use the hard shoulder on some sections of motorway but that this would not necessarily mean the speed limit would be cut, but routinely lowering the speed limit to ease traffic flow at peak times was a plan for the motorway.
“Controlled Motorways” is set to be rolled out over the next five years, with the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester and the Manchester M60 ring road forming part of the plan.
A Highways Agency spokesman said: “On the M6, M62 and M60 the only plan at the moment is to make traffic flow as smoothly as possible. People will be told to drive at a certain speed, say 50mph or 60mph, to get them through that particular area.
“We are not cutting speed limits for the sake of it — obviously the time of the day is important.
“Using the hard shoulder on the M60 and M62 will not necessarily mean the speed limit is cut.”
The Highways Agency said the scheme has already proved successful on other stretches of motorway including the M6 near Birmingham and the M62 in Yorkshire.
Critics in motoring groups have reacted angrily to the news and say the slower speeds will have an impact on business. Many have been calling for an increase in the national speed limit to 80 mph for the past few years and say this is a setback.