Drivers heading towards Manchester on the M6 through Cheshire can use an extra lane from today (Friday 18 January) – increasing capacity on one of England’s busiest stretches of motorway by a third.
Highways England has opened a fourth lane on the northbound carriageway between Holmes Chapel and Knutsford (junctions 18 to 19) as a major upgrade of the motorway nears its completion.
New overhead electronic signs have also been switched on to provide drivers with live information about their journeys, including changes in the speed limit, lane closures and incidents on their route.
A fourth lane is also due to be opened southbound between the same junctions overnight tonight, benefitting the 120,000 drivers who use the route in both directions every day.
Arun Sahni, Project Manager at Highways England, said:
“We’re on schedule to complete the upgrade of the M6 through Cheshire by the end of March and we’ve now reached the stage where we can open extra lanes on almost half of the scheme.
“The additional lanes we’re introducing will significantly increase the motorway’s capacity and will improve journeys on the key route between the West Midlands and North West.
“We’re continuing to do everything we can to minimise disruption while the work takes place and would like to thank drivers for bearing with us during the final few weeks of the project.”
Highways England increased the speed limit on the stretch of motorway between Holmes Chapel and Knutsford to 60mph before Christmas, improving journeys for drivers who used the M6 to visit friends and family over the festive season.
The 60mph speed limit will remain in place in both directions on the upgraded eight-mile stretch of motorway for the next few weeks while contractors complete testing of new technology, and it is due to be fully operational as a smart motorway by early February.
The entire 18-mile upgrade between Crewe and Knutsford is also on schedule to be finished by the end of March.
When the smart motorway scheme is complete, traffic sensors at the side of the motorway will automatically set variable speed limits on overhead electronic signs to keep traffic moving, preventing tailbacks and stop-start conditions caused by sudden braking.
New CCTV cameras will also provide extensive coverage of the motorway to help Highways England’s traffic officers and the emergency services respond quickly to incidents, and frequent emergency areas will provide drivers with a safe place to stop if they break down.
A similar smart motorway scheme on a stretch of the M62 in West Yorkshire has resulted in commuters saving an average 30 minutes each week, despite an increase in the number of vehicles using the route.
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