Extending the A555 to Bredbury (A6-M60 Bypass) will not solve Stockport’s traffic problems. It is a plan for trying to deal with the consequences of too much car dependency by creating even more.
Two versions of the road are possible: The current version has seven sets of traffic lights on the Bypass and on its two link roads in four and a half miles (counting the 17 lights on Crookilley Roundabout as one). An alternative version has huge motorway-style junctions and a faster route for motorway cut-through drivers. This was suggested by a Feasibility Study in 2017. Either way, Stockport drivers will struggle to get on the Bypass in the morning rush hour.
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 carry an increasing volume of traffic across 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.
- Some existing through traffic from outside the borough would switch to the Bypass, but the local road space vacated is likely to be filled back up with traffic sooner or later – unless a means is found 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 would be vulnerable to additional congestion, as we see currently around the M60 junctions. The impact on the A6 in High Lane and Disley would be so severe that, by itself, it destroys the argument for the Bypass. SMBC is now talking vaguely of building a single-lane High Lane relief road after the A6-M60 Bypass is completed, but this is not part of the A6-M60 plan, which is already massively expensive.
- The Business Case and Feasibility Study (both appearing in 2017) 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.
- When the Government knocked back Stockport Council’s last-but-one funding application, they said alternative solutions should be examined. The Council should examine ways of easing congestion in Bredbury and the centre of Hazel Grove without draconian road building which may never happen (we hope).