National Highways, the authority responsible for England's major roads, has recently launched a comprehensive consultation process aimed at addressing a critical gap in the M60 motorway surrounding Manchester. Back in January 2021, National Highways unveiled its preferred route for the Simister Island Interchange, a crucial component of the motorway infrastructure. Since then, the organisation has been actively involved in conducting preliminary design work to refine the project.
To ensure the successful implementation of the ambitious £138 million Simister Island junction improvement program, which serves the M60, M66, and M62, National Highways has partnered with leading construction and engineering firms. Costain, renowned for their expertise in design and construction management, has been appointed to oversee the project's execution. Additionally, Jacobs, a prominent design partner, has been enlisted to contribute their specialized knowledge to the endeavour.
The Simister Island Interchange stands as one of the most heavily utilised motorway junctions in the northwest region, accommodating a staggering influx of approximately 90,000 vehicles on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the junction's existing layout struggles to cope with the immense volume of traffic, surpassing its original design capacity. As a consequence, commuters and motorists are plagued by persistent congestion issues and an alarming lack of journey time reliability. This pressing issue has prompted National Highways to take proactive measures to rectify the situation.
Twenty years ago, the 57km M60 ring road was initially established by seamlessly connecting several pre-existing stretches of the motorway. However, the current configuration of the motorway necessitates an inconvenient exit at Simister Island to continue travelling along the route. This perplexing layout often confuses drivers, leading them unintentionally towards Leeds on the M62, rather than their intended destinations along the M60. As a result, the Simister Island Interchange assumes a pivotal role in connecting the M60, M62, and M66, highlighting its significance for regional transportation and mobility.
As part of the proposed plans put forth by National Highways, a transformative solution is envisioned. The implementation of a new loop will enable drivers on the eastbound M60 to make a seamless transition to the southbound direction without the need to leave the motorway. This strategic enhancement aims to alleviate congestion, improve traffic flow, and enhance overall efficiency for commuters and motorists traversing this critical section of the motorway network.
Recognising the importance of community input and stakeholder engagement, a spokesperson from National Highways emphasised the significance of the ongoing consultation process. Individuals and organisations are encouraged to provide their valuable feedback on the proposed scheme, including any local changes that may have occurred in the vicinity over the past year, which could impact the final design. National Highways remains dedicated to comprehending and duly considering the diverse perspectives of all customers, stakeholders, and local communities associated with the project.
Looking ahead, a comprehensive planning application is scheduled for submission later this year. Pending government approval, it is anticipated that construction work on this transformative project could commence as early as spring 2025. The proposed improvements to the Simister Island Interchange stand significantly enhance the efficiency, reliability, and overall experience for countless commuters and motorists traversing the M60 motorway and its surrounding connections.