Public consultation revealed support for proposals to create a new link road at junction 18 of the M60 near Prestwich so that drivers travelling clockwise are no longer interrupted by a roundabout.
Construction of a new loop to take drivers from the eastbound to the southbound M60 at J18 is expected cost anything up to £338m. (Highways England official estimate is from £66m to £338m.)
A new two-lane link road will also be created for drivers travelling from the northbound to the westbound stretches of the M60 at Simister Island, replacing the existing single lane slip road.
And despite continuing controversy about the removal of hard shoulders and potential legal action, Highways England is pressing on with their removal for the sake of cheaper motorway widening and installing inductive loop technology. The hard shoulder will be converted to a permanent running lane along the mile-long stretch of the M60 between junctions 17 and 18.
Highways England will hold another public consultation later this year once its consultants have developed detailed designs for the scheme, with a planning application expected to be submitted next winter. It has a target date for construction work to start by spring 2025.
Around 90,000 drivers use Simister Island every day to travel between the M60, M62 and M66, making it one of the North’s busiest motorway junctions.
The missing link anomaly was created when the M60 was formed 21 years ago, connecting several existing motorways with a new stretch of motorway to form a 36-mile ring road around Manchester. The current setup means drivers travelling eastbound soon find themselves on the M62 on their way to Leeds if they don’t use a roundabout to reach the southbound section of the M60.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “Our proposal for a new link road at Simister Island was the clear favourite during our public consultation. We will now develop detailed designs for the upgrade, which will benefit everyone from local shoppers to haulage firms travelling across the north.”