What's Going on With Manchester's Roads?

It seems that lately, every time I open up my web browser for a bit of a Google, I am continually faced with more gripes about the state of Greater Manchester’s roads. In the city centre, in Salford, on the M60; everywhere it would seem, is disrupted by roadworks and congestion that just don’t seem to ease up. And there’s no end in sight. If anything it seems like things will get worse, especially with the news that the Fairfield Street entrance to Piccadilly train station is likely to be closed for three years while renovation works take place.




The main reason for many of these roadworks is, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), the ‘bus priority scheme.’ The TfGM website states that this scheme will 'allow cross city bus services to run directly through the heart of Manchester city centre – free from other traffic.' A noble plan, yes.  But how long are road users expected to put up with transport chaos in view of it? The website simply states that works will be completed ‘in 2015’ without any hint as to when in 2015 this will be. It also tells us that the plan is to ‘improve links to key centres’ and to ‘cut delays and congestion’ which, considering the result of current roadworks, does seem somewhat ironic.


The Leigh Guided Busway through Salford to Manchester City Centre will see currently disused railway tracks reimagined as concrete ‘tracks’ along which only specially-designed buses will be able to run. The plan is to reduce the travel time from Leigh to Manchester city centre to under 50 minutes, and will include the cutting of one of three current car lanes along the East Lancs road.


It would however, seem that the positive vision for the future shared by TfGM is not one that is shared by much of the public. Protest group Enough is Enough stop the Traffic Chaos was formed in direct response to the traffic jams that have been caused by the busway roadworks and has accrued a lot of support in not a lot of time. Since the group’s inception in September 2014, its Facebook page has picked up over 3,700 followers, while its online petition has been signed by over 1,200 people. Enough is Enough is campaigning to secure a Judicial Review to challenge the planning permission given for the busway. The group cites mass public opposition to the busway and enjoys support from Wigan Councillor, Norman Bradbury. On the group’s petition page, Clr Bradbury points to the complaints of locals that have ‘inundated’ the local press. He also claims that the upshot of the traffic will be a bus route that does not stop where the public wants it to and that will not even provide the direct route into Manchester that has been cited as a central benefit of the scheme.


For many road users, the guided busway will be seen as just another piece in the jigsaw of extensive roadworks currently in place all across Greater Manchester. In July of this year, works were started on the M60 and M62 to cut congestion, with the familiar story of long term gains for short term pain. The Highways Agency has warned that traffic could be slower for three years as a new ‘smart motorways’ system is put in place, using variable speed limits and traffic monitoring technology to reduce congestion.


And bringing another three years of disruption are plans to close major road, Fairfield Street, in order to create new platforms and a new entrance for Piccadilly Train Station. As this goes ahead, so too will works on Oxford Road station, meaning additional disruption on Whitworth Street West. If these plans are given the go-ahead they will get started in 2016, just as the motorway works should be coming to an end.


The question has to be asked, is it all worth it? While the proposed long-term benefits of all of these schemes may well sound promising, many people are not convinced by the plans, and the timing is far from ideal. Here at YouClaim we want to know what you, the road users think, and we will be conducting a survey to find out. In the meantime, please share your thoughts on the travel disruption in Greater Manchester on our Twitter page, YouClaimUK.

Categories: Road And Motor, Manchester
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