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'Innovative' tests to reduce congestion on the M62 start

A new 'innovative' way to reduce congestion is being tested on the M62 near Warrington Photo: Highways England

Tests have started on the M62 near Warrington this week to pilot an 'innovative' way to reduce congestion.

Highways England will trial the project at Croft Interchange to give drivers 'smoother and more reliable' journeys along the eastbound M62.

A new 'innovative' way to reduce congestion is being tested on the M62 near Warrington Credit: Highways England

The stretch of motorway, where junction 21a of the M6 meets junction 10, is one of the busiest commuter hotspots in the region.

Once testing is completed electronic information signs and variable mandatory speed limits will combine with traffic lights on the motorway link roads from the M6 to provide 'smoother traffic flows'.

Andy Withington, Highways England’s programme delivery manager for the North West, said:

This is an opportunity to combine existing technology and traffic management systems in a novel way to see whether we can give drivers using the frequently congested eastbound M62, lower journey times during peak hours and smoother, more reliable journeys.

“Once the system is fully up and running we’ll be monitoring its use over a period of up to a year. If it is successful – and we believe it will be – it could well be used on other motorway to motorway link roads across the country.”

– Andy Withington, Highways England
A new 'innovative' way to reduce congestion is being tested on the M62 near Warrington Credit: Highways England

The new 'motorway to motorway' system will be introduced in two phrases.

Firstly electronic variable message signs will be introduced between junction 9 and junction 11 displaying speed limits and congestion warnings.

This will be followed by the second phase where traffic lights will be switched on at the end of the link roads to the eastbound M62. Traffic leaving the M6 will be closely monitored and the lights will be controlled to minimise queuing onto the M6.

Mr Withington said:

The key aim of the project is to test the novel technology introduced through this pilot project and tackle congestion at peak travel times, especially during the morning rush hour. The link road traffic lights won’t be on all of the time, being limited to the morning peak, but the variable speed limit signs on the M62 eastbound will be working all the time when traffic conditions dictate.

“Therefore, when the system is operating, drivers will be expected to obey the traffic lights on the link roads and variable mandatory speed limits displayed on the new M62 electronic signs.”

– Andy Withington, Highways England

The £7 million construction project involved installing some of the largest gantries ever used in the region to carry the electronic signs – crossing up to 10 lanes of traffic.

Money for the project is coming from a £150 million innovation fund, part of the £15 billion allocated to Highways England in the Government’s 2015 to 2020 Road Investment Strategy.

The innovation fund is designed to encourage Highways England to look at new technology or novel techniques to improve journeys.