Four-lane M6 plan is back - at a price.
TRANSPORT officials are expected to confirm today they are drawing up plans to expand the M6 into an 8-lane carriageway.
Last month, the Daily Post exclusively revealed the M6 motorway in Cheshire is to be widened to four lanes each way.
Now the Midman Steering Group is to confirm a package of transport proposals that also includes the total reconstruction of Junction 20 at Warrington and the reopening of the Sandbach to Northwich railway line.
The ambitious transport plan will also recommend the introduction of tolls on the M6 by 2021.
The study was set up two years ago by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions to examine ways to ease congestion between the North West and West Midlands.
It was undertaken by experts from a host of bodies including government offices for the West Midlands and North West, Highways Agency, North West Regional Assembly and Strategic Rail Authority.
The steering group has fully endorsed the recommendations from engineering consultants Ove Arup for the widening of more than 50 miles of the M6 from Junction 11, near Hilton Park, to Junction 20, where it meets the M56.
The group is also expected to recommend that within the next 20 years tolls should be introduced along the length of the motorway to ease traffic congestion.
The report will outline plans for Junction 20 be rebuilt to make it fully directional with the M56.
It is hoped a rebuilt junction would ease the flow of traffic on the A556, which currently links the M6 and the M56.
But a Friends of the Earth spokesman, which was consulted as part of the study, claimed the proposals would cause irreversible damage if they went ahead.
He said: "A lot of the land that would be used would be prime farm land, and once we had covered it with millions of tonnes of tarmac it would just become waste land.
"Every new road that's built adds to the traffic. The biggest issue that should have been discussed is alternatives to roads, such as rail, but this seems to have been ignored." Anne Frost, deputy director at the Government Office for the West Midlands said: "The steering group is considering these proposals and their recommendations will be submitted to the Regional Planning Bodies shortly.
"We would then request the Regional Planning Bodies to consider these outline recommendations as part of the Regional transport Strategy." Earlier plans to widen the M6 were shelved when environmental groups protested and government funding was withdrawn.
A report on the earlier proposal, which included lighting the carriageway along its whole length, admitted widening the route would cause environmental harm and added noise pollution for communities living nearby.
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Jan 17, 2002|
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