MY family and I are regular users of the M62. It’s the main link between the Wigan Grahams and the rellies over in Yorkshire.
I’m sure many of you take similar journeys, not least because of the amount of trans-Pennine travel required by our local sports fans.
So imagine the sinking feeling when we were first confronted a few weeks ago with no fewer than 18 and a half miles of 50mph speed restrictions and the promise that this was going to remain in place until 2017. “2017? I’ll be in my 50s by then,” I howled.
And to make the journey more frustrating there has so far been so little evidence of any work to justify the coning off of the hard shoulder all the way from Carrington to Rochdale.
But before I launched into a scathing attack on the pitiless Highways Agency and its project to introduce the first “smart” motorway in the North West (you know, like the stretch around Leeds with matrix-controlled speed limits, cameras galore and hard shoulders that can be used as an extra lane), I would give it the opportunity to answer for its crimes to motoring.
And a very interesting conversation I had with project manager Paul Hampson (a Wiganer).
He explained that the coning off of such a long section was the most effective and least disruptive of all the options available for such an ambitious enterprise.
Much of the work is carried out at night when we motorists are tucked up in bed and, in fact, the heavy duty labour is only set to begin towards the end of the year.
In the meantime work crews and surveyors need to be able to scurry from one part of the motorway to another at any one time. And to be putting out and taking down cones and signs every night would be so laborious that there would hardly be any time left to carry out the actual work.
So there you have it. To use a hoary old cliche: you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.
And this is a particularly large omelette. But, Mr Hampson has promised us, the end results will be well worth it.
The areas of the country where smart motorways have been introduced have seen massive falls in accidents and big reductions in congestion which have a knock-on positive effect on the economy.
So we may have to grizzle for the next three years about having to drive a little slower but, as Mr Hampson pointed out, motoring at 50 rather than 70 only adds five seconds per mile onto your journey.
Never in the history of this page has an intended rant been so successfully quelled!