Plan to make eight lanes may cost £650m

Ian Herbert,North
Friday 18 January 2002 01:00

Consultants who have spent two years studying jams on the M6 told Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Transport, to make a 47-mile section of the motorway eight lanes wide.

The consultants Arup, commissioned by John Prescott when he was Transport Secretary, recommended that the notorious six-lane section from north Birmingham's Hilton Park services at junction 11 to junction 20, where it meets the M56 in Cheshire, must be widened, with the possibility of toll charges in the long-term.

If the Government takes up the recommendation it will represent a capitulation to the near-inevitable.

M6 widening was first proposed 10 years ago but put on hold by Mr Prescott after protests over the Newbury and Winchester bypasses coincided with Labour's plans for an integrated transport policy.

Arap concluded that the unreliability of the M6, which carries up to 90,000 vehicles each hour, was affecting the "economic health" of the North.

If approved, the work would probably take six years and cost about £650m.

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