Fourteen years ago Stockport Council’s leaders were campaigning for the government to fund a new road from Bredbury to the Airport through the Goyt Valley. Then came an awkward realisation: the new road could be taken over by traffic diverting from the bunged-up motorways. They still haven’t found a sensible response (such as, don’t build it!).
In 2003, the Council were banging the drum for a single dual carriageway bypass and relief road linking the M60 and M56. But a report to the SMBC Executive (top councillors) in October 2003 pointed out a problem over the design of junctions. If motorway-style junctions with slip roads were to be used, the new road could provide a cut-through for motorway drivers to such an extent that local drivers would struggle to get on it in the rush hours.
On the other hand if the junctions were only designed as slow, traffic-light controlled cross-roads, rat-runners would be deterred – but the junctions would not be able to cope with increased traffic in a few years’ time. So local drivers would still lose out.
Don’t tell the voters
The Council had an amazing answer to the problem: brush it under the carpet. They decided not to carry out modelling of traffic flows 15 years after the hoped-for opening in 2011.
The Executive Report said “Use of a 2026 design year flow would almost certainly require some form of grade separation [ie bridges etc] at most of the junctions. The resulting reduced link transit time from M56 to M60 would be likely to draw traffic from the M60/M56 and undermine the more local function of the road.”
The councillors endorsed the use of mainly traffic-light controlled junctions despite the acknowledged risk that the junctions would become overloaded. Public consultations were being run in October 2003 at the time of the councillors’ discussions, but the public were told nothing about the motorway rat-runner problem, or the possible consequences of the traffic light-controlled junctions.
In the event Stockport Council did model for traffic 15 years down the line, though analysis of how the junctions would function is not publicly available . The important point is the Council’s recognition that the very expensive new road could become non-functional within relatively few years whatever system of junctions was used.
The A6-to Airport Road eventually reached the construction stage with a mixture of junction designs. Now the Bypass is back on the agenda.
The Bypass Feasibility Study Stage 1, published early this year, indicated that the Council’s 2003 decision in favour of traffic-light controlled junctions could be reversed and Motorway-style junctions preferred. The next step will be to see what’s in the Business Case when it’s published. Incredibly, Stockport, which already hosts the horribly congested M60, could have another nightmare road through its heart.
- Two uncertain and harmful road schemes: A6-MARR £290 million + A6-M60 Bypass £580 million. Total £870 million. Read about how we got here via tragicomic Junction 25.