The Hazel Grove-M60 Bypass will not solve Stockport’s traffic problems. There are two versions of the road under consideration; Version 1 has five sets of traffic lights in four and a half miles right on the carriageways. 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.
We see a number of fundamental failings to the proposals, both from 2003-06 (Version 1) and as envisaged by the recent Feasibility Study (Version 2). The proposed Bypass would destroy sensitive green belt areas and cause serious negative impacts on noise, air quality, recreational opportunity and wildlife.
The argument for the Bypass hinges on the benefits of relieving environmental problems elsewhere in Stockport and supporting economic growth outweighing the negative effects (and the high cost). We do not believe this would happen because:
- The Bypass would encourage more traffic to cross Stockport between the M60 and Manchester Airport/ M56. 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 road would become very busy, particularly in peak hours.
- The route of the Bypass means that there are relatively few journeys by Stockport drivers that would benefit from it.
- Whether motorway style or at-grade 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.
- While some existing through traffic from outside Stockport 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.
- It is inevitable that queues would form around the intermediate Bypass 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 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.
- The Feasibility Study described a strategy for Greater Manchester whereby traffic would increase as an essential component of economic growth. A major tenet of sustainable transport policy is to de-couple traffic growth from economic growth through 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 and construction of the Bypass would continue a largely car-based strategy for the area. Given this history, we would be sceptical about any renewed proposals in the forthcoming “SEMMMS Refresh”.
Top picture: the middle lane west bound on the M60 at Junction 25 was left vacant for vehicles to take off from – possibly on a never-built fly-over to an earlier version of the Bypass. The current A6-M60 Bypass scheme is also not grounded in reality.