Road Projects Needed in North-West England

This is a list of various road projects, mainly in Cheshire, Greater Manchester and the Potteries, that would greatly improve the region's road network, reduce congestion and accidents and enhance the local economy. Most of these have been mooted at some time, some have been planned and then cancelled, a few are purely my own suggestions.

Schemes Planned or Required

  • The SEMMMS Scheme. This stands for South East Manchester Multi-Modal Study, and covers the A6(M) Stockport Eastern Bypass, A523 Poynton Bypass and A555 Manchester Airport Eastern Link Road. All of these roads are desperately needed in an area that suffers from chronic congestion, particularly in the centres of towns and villages such as Hazel Grove, Poynton and Bredbury. A Hazel Grove bypass has been planned since the 1930s.

    In the 1980s detailed plans were drawn up, building them all to a high standard with grade-separated junctions. Unfortunately, the Major government cancelled them all apart from an isolated central section of the A555 MAELR on either side of the A34, which opened in 1996. In the early 2000s the scheme has been revived, and has been approved in principle by the government. However, this is to a much lower standard, with entirely at-grade junctions, which will surely prove inadequate.

    A consultation document was sent out to local households in October 2003.

    Also see my letter on the subject that was published in the "Stockport Express" in November 2003.

  • A34 Alderley Edge bypass
    The prosperous commuter village of Alderley Edge suffers a constant stream of traffic throughout most of the day and a bypass is direly needed. A fairly simple single-carriageway road is planned by Cheshire County Council - but ideally it should be a dual-carriageway extension of the Handforth/Wilmslow bypass. A scarcely believable drawback of the proposed scheme is that it does not provide a junction with the A535 which is a major route from Wilmslow and Bramhall to the southbound M6.

  • A34 Congleton bypass
    The A34 currently avoids the town centre by means of the (1930s?) Clayton Bypass, but this is heavily congested at both ends, and a route totally avoiding the built-up area is needed. Not aware this has ever been seriously considered by the authorities.

  • A34 link to A500
    The link to the A500 Stoke D-road goes through a congested village centre at Butt Lane and a very busy crossroads at the A5011 junction by the Caldwell Tavern, where there are long queues at rush hour. This has never been in the roads programme and I'm not sure of the ideal route, but it's surely direly needed.

  • A500 - 2 graded junctions in Stoke
    The current flat roundabouts at the City Road and Stoke Road junctions in the centre of Stoke cause congestion throughout most of the day and long tailbacks at rush hour. This has been approved by the government and construction is now under way.

  • A533 second Runcorn-Widnes bridge
    The current 1961 bridge was widened to 4 lanes in the late 1970s but still jams up at rush hour. The southern approach roads linking to the Runcorn Expressway are awkward and have been made more so by recent junction changes. A major southerly access route to Liverpool. In early 2003 this had proceeded to the active study stage - see website

    Manchester's Weakest Link

  • A556(M) M56-M6 link road
    The current A556 link, with two flat roundabouts and two signal-controlled junctions, is overloaded and at times heavily congested. It has recently been given the "safety treatment" with reduced speed limits and Gatsos. A proper motorway link is essential to give Manchester a decent southern gateway, but has still not been confirmed in the roads programme. Amazingly, the Highways Agency are now considering diverting Manchester-Birmingham traffic along the M56 to join the M6 at Junction 20, where full south to east access would be provided. This would involve a 10-mile journey, as opposed to four miles along the A556. Their website has details of the latest study - which comes out conclusively against this ludicrous idea. It now seems as though a rolling programme of on-line improvements is most likely.

  • M56-A55 link improvement
    This includes two flat roundabouts and one signal-controlled junction in an otherwise all-graded route that stretches from South Manchester across to Anglesey. It is a major bottleneck in the rush hour. The Highways Agency are currently carrying out a study, and it is likely that something, either graded junctions or a new link road, will eventually be done.

  • A57/A628 Mottram/Hollingworth/Tintwistle Bypass
    These villages have to endure a steady stream of traffic including many HGVs, and there are long queues at the two sets of traffic lights. The road is lined with "Bypass Now!" signs. It was announced in Spring 2003 that this project had been approved - see the Highways Agency website. The road is planned as a dual carriageway, but with at-grade junctions.

  • A570 Ormskirk E-W bypass
    The Rainford Bypass to the south of Ormskirk, still a good, well-aligned dual-carriageway, was built in the 1930s, but traffic still has to crawl through the town centre to continue on to Southport

  • A6 High Lane/Disley/New Mills bypass
    These villages have a constant stream of traffic throughout the day. The current A6 has been treated to so-called "safety improvements" including lower speed limits, extensive centre-line red hatched areas and central bollards. Overtaking is well-nigh impossible and you are doing well to cover the 6 miles (mixed 30s and 40s) in 15 minutes. This road scheme has been planned but later cancelled.

  • A6 bypasses of Dove Holes, Buxton and Bakewell
    Buxton and Bakewell are major bottlenecks at busy times and Dove Holes is bisected by traffic. However, there are concerns about damaging the Peak District landscape, and the Highways Agency don't want to turn this route into a major artery through the middle of the Peak District.

  • A623/A619 improvements between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Chesterfield -
    A busy single-carriageway trunk road with sharp bends, limited overtaking opportunities and a lot of HGV traffic (but good to drive on a quiet Sunday morning). Some improvement is desperately needed, such as smoothing out bends, improving junctions and introducing dual carriageway stretches to allow overtaking, but probably they'll just introduce a 50 mph limit all the way. I'm not aware of any plans at present - indeed it is the policy of the Peak National Park authority not to allow any development of roads between the A628 to the north and the A50 to the south.

  • A628 Manchester-Sheffield trunk road - dualling/full motorway (M67)
    Long planned, but never built. The fact that two big cities such as Manchester and Sheffield, only 40 miles apart, are linked by the steep, winding, single-carriageway Woodhead route, which is clogged by crawling HGVs, is a disgrace. There are environmental concerns in widening a road through the Peak District, but to be honest the landscape is generally just downright bleak and if anything would be enhanced by a well-laid-out six-lane motorway and a few striking bridges and viaducts. There have been suggestions of using the former Woodhead rail tunnel for a road, but I feel the option of reopening the railway in the future should be left open. Details of a fantasy scheme to complete this road as motorway can be found here.

  • (Unclass) Hardy Lane extension from Chorlton-cum-Hardy to M60 Junction 6
    Link involving a new bridge across the Mersey, shown in outline in many editions of the Manchester A-Z, but never built. Currently there is no crossing of the Mersey between the A56 at Stretford and the A5103 at Northenden. Would allow local traffic to flow much more freely.

Schemes Now Completed

  • A500 - filter lane at M6 Junction 16, southbound
    In the morning rush hour there is normally a queue of standing traffic back on to the M6, creating a serious risk of rear-end collisions, and takes upwards of 10 minutes to get through. A filter lane would solve this at a stroke. In fact in early 2003 traffic signals were put on this part of the roundabout, allowing two lanes of traffic on the southbound slip road to proceed towards Stoke, which seem to have largely solved the problem.

  • A500 - Hough/Shavington bypass
    A winding section of road, with limited overtaking opportunities, running through the outskirts of these two villages. In the late 90s a 40 mph limit was imposed along its whole length, with 30 for a hump-backed bridge over the West Coast Main Line. Fortunately, the bypass - an extension of the A500 from M6 Junction 16 - got approved and was completed in May 2003, to dual carriageway standard, which is good to see.

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