Trunk road and motorway improvement plans, including the upgrade of 80 miles of motorway to ‘smart’, were set out at a launch event in Manchester yesterday.
Work will start on seven new smart motorway projects by 2020, in addition to the project already taking place on the M62 and M60, installing traffic information and variable speed restriction systems and cameras.
Two of the schemes on the M62 will link up with existing projects to create the biggest single stretch of smart motorway in the country, covering nearly 60 miles between the northwest and Yorkshire.
Other major schemes planned for the region include bypasses on the A556, A585 and A57, new motorway junctions on the M55 and M56, and junction upgrades on the M6.
And during 2015/16 alone, 130 miles of lanes on motorways and major A roads will be resurfaced, 40 miles of safety barriers will be installed, and 2,900 lighting columns will be upgraded.
Highways England northwest regional director Alan Shepherd said: “We’re investing £1.5bn on improvements to the northwest’s motorways and major A roads over the next five years, creating the biggest increase in capacity on the road network for 50 years.
“That includes nearly 80 miles of smart motorway where the hard shoulder will be converted into extra lanes and variable speed limits will be used to keep traffic moving. New bypasses and new and improved motorway junctions will also all help to tackle congestion, benefitting both businesses and local residents.
“It’s vital that we continue to improve the existing road network as well, which is why we’re investing £90m this year alone on resurfacing, safety barriers and other maintenance projects.”
Work on the region’s first smart motorway began in July 2014 and affects a 17-mile stretch of the M60 and M62 in Greater Manchester. The £202m project is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2017.
A new £233m smart motorway scheme along an 18-mile section of the M6 between junction 16 at Crewe and junction 19 at Knutsford is due to start this autumn.
Construction work on a £192m project to build a new A556 link road between the M56 near Bowdon and the M6 near Knutsford also began last year and is due to be completed by winter 2016/17.
Other major projects planned to start construction work before 2020 include new bypasses on the A585, to remove a major bottleneck on the main road to Fleetwood, and on the A57, to tackle congestion near Mottram and Hollingworth in Tameside.
Another scheme will improve access to the Port of Liverpool along the A5036, new motorway junctions will be created on the M56 (junction 11a) and M55 (junction 2) near Preston, and major upgrades will be made to junction 19 of the M6 near Knutsford and junction 22 near Newton-le-Willows.