England to put traffic lights on motorways

Faced with ever-rising congestion on its network of supposedly high-speed roads, authorities in England will test traffic lights on one of its busiest motorway junctions.

Highways England said system will be introduced next month during rush hours on link roads where motorways meet.

London-bound traffic jam on the M4 motorway (Wikimedia Commons)

Lights will be placed at the junction of the M6 and M62 near Warrington, Cheshire, as part of a £7 million trial.

Currently, traffic lights are installed on slip roads leading on to motorways, but this will be the first wholesale attempt to put them on link roads, which are part of motorways themselves, reported the Times.

For 20 years the amount of motorway traffic has increased relentlessly.

Research last month by the traffic data company Inrix found that there had been more than 1.35 million jams on motorways and A roads in the past 12 months, equivalent to almost 3,700 each day.

Official figures show that vehicles travelled 68 billion miles on motorways in Britain in the year ending in June, up by more than a third since the mid-Nineties. Traffic has increased at a faster rate on motorways than on any other type of road.

First, electronic signs will be introduced on the eastbound M62 heading towards Manchester, indicating lower speed limits at times of higher congestion.

In the second phase, traffic lights will be switched on at the end of the link roads from the M6 on to the eastbound M62, to cut the number of vehicles accessing the M62 when it is congested.

Highways England said that traffic would be monitored by cameras, with controlled lights to minimise tailbacks on to the M6.

The technology was tested last week and will be switched on next month and in January. Highways England said that traffic would be monitored for a year. If successful, the scheme will be introduced on other motorway link roads.

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  1. I agree that a trial should be carried out to ease congestion if it is required in that area although I do not know the issues for that part of the motorway system, but what I do know is the historic traffic jam chaos on the M5/M6 junction and the queuing from that junction in three directions, 1 from the M6 towards and past Spaghetti Junction North and South, 2 from the M5/M6 North up to the M6 Toll again both North and South, 3 from the M5/M6 junction now back to junction 4a of the M5 because of the road works on the Oldbury Viaduct (Junctions 1-2), the North and South approaches are bad enough during the day but especially congested in the afternoons North to the M6 junction.

    I have a temporary simple solution to help with the chaos with the road works which is to open the M6 Toll free of charge (Government to buy it back from its current owners anyway), close the M5 from junction 3 Northwards and to get around Birmingham use the M5/M42/M6, signage will have to be erected on the M5 and M42 to say that the M5 is only open until junction 3 and all M6 traffic to use the M42, from the M6 toll area traffic not bound for Birmingham can use the free M6 toll and also state that M5 traffic needs to use the M42 as the M5 is closed both Northbound and Southbound between junction 3 of the M5 to the M6.
    This would then get the M5 Oldubry Viaduct finished earlier and once completed the congestion could be eased in the area as everyone will be used to using the free M6 tool road and not congest the M5/M6 junction and Spaghetti Junction.
    Kind regards
    David L Bergin, FCIOB, AssocRICS, C. Build E, MICWCI

  2. The traffic lights need installing on the M61 where traffic build up starts at the Bolton slip road. The danger is the junction to go to M62 Hull/Leeds and cross over to join M62 Manchester. The congestion in a morning can take over an hour to navigate, giving road rage a new meaning between HGV’s and stupid chance drivers.

  3. It sounds like a sticking plaster solution to a problem that is only going to get worse. The only way to regulate the volume of traffic is to have more road tolls.

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