Manchester motorway could soon get its missing link

The Simister Island junction is used by around 90,000 vehicles every day Credit: Highways England

The only motorway in England which drivers need to come off to continue their journey on the same motorway could be about to get its missing link.

The anomaly was created when the M60 was formed 20 years ago, connecting several existing motorways with a new stretch of motorway to form a 36-mile ring road around Manchester.

The current set up means drivers travelling eastbound on the M60 at junction 18 near Prestwich, known locally as Simister Island, soon find themselves on the M62 on their way to Leeds if they don’t use a roundabout to reach the southbound section of the M60.

Highways England is now developing plans to cut journey times for the 90,000 drivers who use the junction every day to travel between the M60, M62 and M66.

Drivers, residents and business owners will be able to have their say on the proposals in a new eight-week public consultation which launches today.

The proposed new loop from eastbound to southbound on the M60 Credit: Highways England

One of the options being considered involves creating a new link road in a loop from the eastbound to the southbound M60 so that drivers travelling clockwise could continue their journeys without leaving the M60.

A virtual reality video has been released showing how the new link road could look.

Highways England is encouraging as many people as possible to share their views in the pubic consultation over the next eight weeks to help develop the designs for the motorway upgrade.

Other proposals being put forward as part of the consultation include creating a new two-lane link road for drivers travelling from the northbound to the westbound stretches of the M60 at Simister Island, as well as a new link road from the eastbound M60 onto the northbound M66.

The hard shoulder could also be converted to a permanent extra lane along the mile-long stretch of the M60 between junctions 17 and 18 to improve the flow of traffic, providing five lanes in both directions.

“We want to provide quicker and more reliable journeys for drivers across the North. Simister Island is one of England’s busiest motorway junctions, and the improvements we’re planning will make it easier for people travelling between the M60, M62 and M66."

Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England

A preferred option for the scheme is due to be announced in the winter once the consultation responses have been considered and, if the project is approved by the government, construction work could start by 2024.