WIGAN is set for a business boost after green lights were given for the upgrade of a huge section of local motorway.
New state-of-the art traffic controls will straddle the carriageways of the M6 between Orrell (Junction 26) and Croft (Junction 22), easing congestion and stimulating economic activity.
Part of an £800m Highways Agency package for the region, a high-tech matrix sign system allows variable speed limits and a built-up hard shoulder to be turned into a “smart lane” for traffic during rush hour periods.
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce - which represents Wigan - today welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement, insisting that traffic congestion “significantly halts” economic growth.
Head of business intelligence at the Chamber Christian Spence believes that transport links must remain a top priority for the area.
He said: “The success of Greater Manchester over the recent decades has led to our principal roads and motorway network becoming congested resulting in long and difficult journeys not only at rush hour but in places throughout the day.
“All residents and businesses of Greater Manchester will be aware of the current difficulties on the northern section of the motorway network and the Government’s proposed smart motorway scheme here may be a help in this area.
“Much greater joined-up thinking is required by Government departments to ensure that truly capacity-building initiatives can be delivered in a timely and efficient way, otherwise we risk stunting growth at a time when connectivity between the northern cities is top of the political agenda.”
But Labour Leader of the council Lord Smith was more cautious in his response to the news.
He said: “This is an old announcement which is resurfacing today to allow hard shoulder running on M6.
“They usually work effectively but seem to take a long time to implement as complaints about the current installation on M60 show.”
Smart Motorways are motorways that use active traffic management (ATM) techniques to increase traffic capacity, by employing variable speed limits and hard shoulder running at busy times.
Formerly called Managed Motorways until last year, the first section was constructed on the M42 in the West Midlands almost a decade ago and the system is now in operation on various part of the country.
Benefits include smoother traffic flows, more reliable journey times, fewer road traffic collisions, and reduced noise and harmful vehicle emissions.
However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has expressed concern that emergency services would take longer to reach an incident along Smart Motorway sections.