The Hazel Grove-M60 Bypass will not solve Stockport’s traffic problems. It is a plan for trying to deal with the problems of too much car dependency by creating even more.
Two versions of the road are possible: Version 1 has seven sets of traffic lights on the Bypass and its two link roads in four and a half miles (counting the 17 lights on Crookilley Roundabout as one). Version 2 has huge motorway-style junctions and a faster route for motorway cut-through drivers. Either way, Stockport drivers will struggle to get on the Bypass in the morning rush hour.
The seven sets of traffic lights are part of the current plan, but the motorway-style junctions of version 2 were suggested in last year’s Feasibility Study. The final design of the Bypass won’t be decided until preparations are too far gone to be stopped. (See the history of the seven sets of traffic lights.)
The proposed Bypass would destroy sensitive green belt areas and badly impact on noise, air quality, recreational opportunity and wildlife. The cost of half a billion pounds is amazingly high for such a road.
Advocates of the Bypass say it is worth the pain because it would decrease traffic congestion and pollution while supporting economic growth. These benefits would not happen because:
- The Bypass would encourage more traffic to cross Stockport between the M60 and Manchester Airport/ M56 and from Cheshire and Derbyshire to the motorways. This extra traffic would increase air and noise pollution while offering no benefit to the borough.
- There is extensive evidence that building new roads leads to more car journeys with consequent congestion, noise and air pollution problems throughout the journey, not just on the Bypass
- If motorway-style junctions are to be incorporated, this would provide further inducement for traffic to cut through Stockport.
- The route of the Bypass means that there are relatively few journeys by Stockport drivers that would benefit. The promised local benefits rely on the Bypass relieving congestion on a small number of roads. On some other roads, it will increase congestion.
- While some existing through traffic from outside the borough could be deflected from other Stockport roads on to the Bypass, the road space vacated is likely to be filled by other traffic sooner or later unless there is a credible plan to stop this happening.
- Whether motorway-style or level traffic light-controlled junctions are used, Stockport-based drivers would struggle to get on to the A6-M60 Bypass at peak hours and could be forced back on to local roads.
- It is inevitable that queues would form around the five intermediate Bypass junctions and link road junctions which are all within a mile of each other. This is likely to create a knot of congestion at peak hours.
- There are serious questions about how the Crookilley Way roundabout and Junction 25 of the M60 can be re-engineered to cope with the much increased volume of traffic.
- Roads leading to Bypass junctions will be vulnerable to additional congestion, as we see currently with the M60 junctions. This could worsen existing congestion through Bredbury, Woodley and from Marple to Stockport.
- Last year’s Business Case and Feasibility Study described a strategy for Greater Manchester whereby increased traffic was essential component for economic growth. This can only lead to a cycle of ever increasing congestion and demands for new roads. Economic growth needs to be supported by better public transport, encouraging walking and cycling and reducing the need to travel.
- The original SEMMMS proposition advocated extensive sustainable transport improvements as an essential part of its strategy alongside new roads. These improvements have almost entirely failed to materialise. Construction of the Bypass would continue a largely car-based strategy for the area, which is how Stockport’s roads became so congested in the first place.