Smart motorway work starts on M6 stretch near Wigan

Highways England has started the scheme to transform the 10-mile stretch of the M6 which links the M62 near Warrington (junction 21a) to the M58 near Wigan (junction 26).

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:27 pm

The all-lane running motorway will have no hard shoulder although there will be 10 new emergency areas with roadside telephones.

It comes despite campaigners raising concerns about the safety of the motorway due to their lack of or no hard shoulders.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has said she would be in favour of a “safer way” of improving the stretch, going onto say that smart motorways are “unsafe” and calling for their roll-out to be scrapped.

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Members of Friends of Ashton pictured on the bridge over M6 near Ashton (junction 24), from left, Pat Grimshaw, Ethel Glover, Don Hodgkinson and Paul Tushingham

And ex-Independent councillor in Bryn and a member of group Friends of Ashton, Don Hodgkinson, raised similar concerns, describing the motorways as “death traps” and “dangerous

But Highways England said the motorway upgrade will increase capacity by a third as well as using new technology to relieve congestion.

The project will be done in phases and start from junction 24 to junction 26, while a 50mph speed limit will be in place covering the length of the work area.

Agnes Usciak, Highways England’s project manager, said: “During busy periods road users experience congestion and unreliable journey times.

General view of the M6, near junction 24, Ashton, as work begins on the controversial smart motorway

"The improvements we’re making on the M6 between Warrington and Wigan will provide quicker, safer and more reliable journeys for the tens of thousands of drivers who travel along the route every day.”

As part of the upgrade, new radar detectors positioned along the motorway will monitor the flow of traffic and automatically detect any stationary vehicles.

The hard shoulder will be permanently converted to an extra lane to provide four traffic lanes in each direction.

A total of 92 electronic signs will be used to set variable speed limits to prevent stop-start conditions, and close lanes by displaying red Xs during incidents. And 39 new CCTV cameras will provide live images of the motorway to Highways England’s regional operations centre in Newton-le-Willows.

The M6, near junction 24, Ashton, as work begins on the controversial smart motorway

The metal barrier in the central reservation will be replaced with a new concrete barrier to increase safety and reduce maintenance. Lanes one and four on both carriageways are also being resurfaced to create low noise surfacing for the benefit of road users and residents.

The scheme is due to be completed by spring 2023.

For more details follow the Twitter account @HighwaysNWEST and visit www.highwaysengland.co.uk/m6-j21a-26.

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