M62 Relief Road

Where is it?

Perhaps not hugely surprisingly - Lancashire.

It was proposed as a dual three lane motorway that would run alongside the existing M62 (now M60) to the north and west of Salford and Manchester.


Yes, alongside.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Tell me properly...

OK. I'll do that.

By the late 1980s, the M62 to the north of Manchester was getting seriously overloaded. But what to do about it? Widening was a possibility, and indeed in the early 1990s the M62 was widened to four lanes in each direction between junctions 14 and 18.

In a fit of utter over-enthusiasm, the Department of Transport suddenly broke free from the depression that hung over road construction since the mid-1970s and thought big.

What they came up with was very interesting - the Manchester Outer Ring Road (to be renumbered M60) was actually heading towards completion after being on the cards since 1945. Unfortunately, the northern section was not only part of the ORR, but also the trans-pennine long distance route, meaning that however you looked at it, two separate lots of traffic were going to try to use the same roadspace.

So, how to solve it? Simple - run another motorway alongside the first - though the new one would only have junctions with strategic routes, leaving the old road to carry traffic to and from the local area. Bingo - instant traffic separation. Consultants were appointed for the route on 14 October 1987.

That is pretty unusual in this country, isn't it?

Indeed - even other "relief roads" such as the M6 Toll (nee A446(M)) or the Western Orbital didn't have that kind of traffic separation.

So how would it have worked?

The Relief Road would have left the M62 just west of junction 12, and would have rejoined the M62 just east of junction 18 - in other words avoiding what is now the M60. It would have had only two junctions along it - one with the M61/A666(M), and the other with the M66. These two junctions would have only allowed access for traffic heading away from Manchester, reinforcing the local/long distance traffic split. The junction with the A666(M) would have been further restricted, with traffic being unable to head between the A666(M) and the Relief Road to the east.

Perhaps surprisingly, only around 370 houses would have needed to be demolished.

There would have been one more change if the Relief Road had been built - junction 13 at Worsley (the original northern terminus of M62) would have been closed. It would have been replaced by a junction just to the west of junction 12, and a new link road built to reach the location of junction 13.

What actually happened?

The newly rediscovered enthusiasm for road building didn't last long. The Relief Road survived the cuts of 1994 (although it was relegated to the second group of "long term" improvements), but it didn't survive the shredder for long - being announced as cancelled on 23 November 1995.

I'm not all that surprised. Any chance of a route map?

Seeing as you asked so nicely, yes!

Can I comment on this motorway?

Of course! Contact me and I'll put them here!

Have any other visitors commented?

Peter Whatley has lots of thoughts! [Dec 07]

Your characterisation of this scheme as 'ever so slightly barmy' is rather unfair.  This was and is the most sensible solution to the severe overcrowding which is almost permanent on the NW section of the M60 (M62 as was).  There are inherent conflicts between the Trans-Pennine traffic flow and the essentially commuter traffic from M61 and M66 into Manchester which are exacerabted by the poorly laid out junctions between M60/M66 and M60/M62/M602.  As regular users will know, the latter junction has sub-standard slip roads and curvature on all axes, with 'near-misses' a daily occurence. 

Perversely, since abandonment of the scheme local rail and road public transport on the Bolton (M61) and Bury (M66) axes has steadily declined in terms of quality (and frequency, if Bury is excluded). No surprise then that pressure on both local roads and the A666(M) and M61 has increased still further!

The relief road scheme would have emulated the system used in major cities of Canada, the USA and occasionally in Australia of separating through traffic lanes from those for local traffic (known in Canada as 'collector lanes'), with, as you say, very limited junctions on the through section.  Hence the low land take.  The end result would have been no wider than the rebuilt M25 between the M3 and M4 and probably more free flowing.

Alas, while our French cousins were steadily building not one, not two, but three ring motorways around Paris, plus high-speed rail lines hither and yon, we had an attack of the collywobbles and did nothing.  "Plus ca change", as we rather rarely said in Manchester!

Paul Martin has some information about the areas along the route [Dec 07]:

Houses along the route in Whitefield were purchased by the ministry, then let out cheaply to tenants who were less than particular about what they did to them. The area's reputation suffered, causing a minor scandal locally.

Jonathan Harris [Dec 07]:

At least I'm young enough to remember seeing plans for this motorway. There were going to demolish loads of houses round Prestwich for this new motorway and if it was built would have wrecked more of Worsley and the evil Junction 13 on the M62 sorry M60 now as it was built too close to junction 12 anyway. The M60 still gets clogged up from the sheer traffic and there's still plans what to do with Junction 13 including removing it! For a short fix re-construct Junction 14 then dump Junction 13!

Simon Greenwood obviously gets to "enjoy" the unrelieved motorway regularly [Dec 07]:

If you've ever had to commute along this section of motorway, you would be cursing the decision to abandon this idea every morning.

The idea isn't yet dead and has been mentioned in relation to the transport plan that the Greater Manchester councils are developing as part of the plans around the road pricing initiative.


Relief Road




11 miles

18 km





Map Links:

Might Have Been Map