Manchester

Extra lane on M60 'risks more accidents', says AA

Roadworks Image copyright PA
Image caption A stretch of the M60 will have no hard shoulder when the work is completed

Opening hard shoulders to traffic as part of the M60 smart motorway plan risks more accidents, the AA said.

Work on the Greater Manchester orbital road will see the hard shoulder become an extra lane between junctions 18 and 20, with lay-bys created at intervals of 1.6 miles (2.5 km).

The AA said this would lead to more broken-down vehicles becoming stranded and causing collisions.

Highways England said traffic flow will improve when the work is completed.

The AA's comments came as commuters hit out at regular delays on stretches of the route which has been subject to roadworks and a 50mph limit for more than a year.

Image caption The AA recorded 2,826 breakdowns on the M60 in 2016, with many leading to delays and accidents

The service recorded 2,826 breakdowns on the whole of the M60 in 2016 - equivalent to more than seven per day.

Jack Cousens, a public affairs officer for the AA, said the small number of planned emergency refuge areas along the route was a "huge problem".

"We've had issues with areas of smart motorway where somebody's broken down in a live lane, they make the call to us and we hear a crash, and it all goes silent.

"We don't want to be hearing that," he said.

"What we've been saying consistently is we want to see twice as many emergency refuge areas, and they need to be twice as long."

Mr Cousens said the most common cause of breakdown was a tyre blowout.

'Enough is enough'

"If you can see [a refuge area], the chances are you'll be able to limp in there and use it," he said.

"But if you can't see one, drivers tend to panic and stop, and that's where we have problems."

Commuter Sylvia Pascoe says she can spend up to three hours per day driving the 18-mile (28 km) journey from Ashton to Altrincham and back.

"It's not acceptable. Enough is enough," she said. "What are the Highways Agency going to do about it?"

Highways England said roadworks on the route would be lifted in sections, starting in September, with all works removed by the end of the year.

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