Government halts M62 Chain Bar slip road plan

Chain Bar roundabout.
Chain Bar roundabout.

MORE THAN a dozen road improvement projects in England have been delayed or face cancellation including a project on the M62 and M606 in West Yorkshire.

Government-owned Highways England announced it has pushed back 16 motorway and A road schemes – all but one until at least 2020 – to ensure “value for money”.

These include work on the M60 in Greater Manchester, the M3 in Winchester and the A5 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, which were all due to begin over the next two years.

Six projects may not happen at all after Highways England said they were being “paused for further review” to achieve an “acceptable return on investment”.

The West Yorkshire scheme is at the Chain Bar roundabout where the M62 and M606 meet. The work involved provision of a slip road to provide a direct link from the M62 westbound to the M606 northbound.

It was said to be planned to reduce congestion. But the Highways Agency said that following a review the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) programme, this was one of six schemes which have been “paused for further review and consideration”.

Other schemes under threat include: Conversion of a section of the M53 in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, to a smart motorway; Technology upgrades on the M11 from Stansted Airport, Essex, to Cambridge; Technology upgrades on the A12 between London to Suffolk.

Two projects will go ahead from 2020 after “changes in local development plans”.

The update also saw 10 schemes being brought forward. Highways England is more than two years into delivering a £15bn government investment in motorways and major A roads.

Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “Our update today is a sensible and responsible way to deliver major national investment in road infrastructure. It will keep our roads moving, deliver a lasting legacy for the country and ensure best value for money for the taxpayer.”

But AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens described the announcement as “devastating to drivers”.

He said: “After suffering months, if not years, of congestion at these hotspots they have had the hope of relief snatched away, at least for the time being. We know that budgets are tight, but the efficiency improvements would assist the economy and help tackle air quality.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “I confirm that Government has agreed with Highways England’s plans to optimise delivery of the RIS (Road Investment Strategy). This re-profiling and optimisation of delivery is consistent with Highways England’s remit and does not involve any cancellation of schemes, so the regions of England can expect continued and similar levels of road investment.”