Wigan 'smart' motorway work to begin soon

Smart motorways should help avoid queues like this
Smart motorways should help avoid queues like this

Work on Wigan’s first “smart” section of motorway is set to begin in the late summer.

A 10-mile stretch between the Orrell interchange and Croft in Cheshire - which is one of the busiest anywhere in the country - will receive an upgrade designed to make traffic flow smoother and reduce accidents.

But you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and local motorists, already accustomed with the delays and 50mph roadwork restrictions further down the M6 and on the M60/M62 for several years now, will now face three years of disruption through the borough starting in September.

A spokesman for Highways England said: “The M6 between junctions 21a and 26 is a key strategic route carrying high volumes of vehicles between the North West, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.

“Smart motorways are a technology driven approach to tackling the most congested parts of the motorway network, improving journey reliability by controlling the flow and speed of traffic.”

The design features of the M6 J21a to J26 smart motorway scheme include:

Variable mandatory speed limits;

Driver information, including lane availability, provided through a mixture of gantries and cantilever signs;

Queue detection and automatic signalling system, which provides queue protection and congestion management;

Comprehensive low light pan-tilt-zoom CCTV coverage;

Refuge areas where drivers can stop in an emergency.

Contractor Costain was this week unveiled as having won the £150m upgrade contract.

A statement was released to the Stock Exchange by the company.

It read: “Under the contract Costain will design and deliver the smart motorway scheme across a 16km length of the M6 to increase capacity and improve journey reliability on this strategic highway.

“The scheme will involve the installation of road-side technology and new infrastructure focused on improving the driver experience.

“The contract, worth approximately £150m and awarded under the collaborative delivery framework, is expected to be completed by Spring 2021.