Highways England has announced plans to invest £1.5 bn in the North West’s roads over the next five years, including creating nearly 80 miles of smart motorway.
The government-owned company, which took over responsibility for England’s motorways and major A roads earlier this year, set out its five-year plan for the North West at a regional launch event at the Macdonald hotel in Manchester, earlier today.
Work will start on seven new smart motorway projects by 2020, in addition to the project currently taking place on the M62 and M60, cutting congestion and improving journey times for drivers.
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 North West 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.
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.
Alan Shepherd, North West Regional Director at Highways England, said:
“We’re investing £1.5 bn on improvements to the North West’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 £90 mn this year alone on resurfacing, safety barriers and other maintenance projects.
“The North West’s motorways and dual carriageways form the backbone for the region’s economy and this huge investment will ensure they remain healthy for many years to come.”