Stockport has many wonders but these road plans are not among them.
Guest blogger Graham Trickey from Goyt Valley SOS! updates us on the battle against A6-M60 plans.
Stockport in Greater Manchester has a railway viaduct that was a wonder of the world when it was built in 1840. Nearby is an attractive ‘old town’ including a covered market. And on the east of the borough, the glorious Peak District begins.
It’s important to mention some of Stockport’s highlights before we get on to the difficult stuff: the M60 goes through the middle of the town and the great River Mersey is culverted under a 1960s shopping centre.
When the future M60 was extended to the east of the town centre in 1989, the fields and woods between the houses of Brinnington and Bredbury were filled with concrete and traffic. An accident black spot bend and unorthodox junction design are notorious. The Mersey suffered again. Its source at the meeting of the Rivers Goyt and Tame nestles beneath a raised section of the motorway.
Congested Bredbury consoled itself that the new motorway would surely relieve the traffic. The opposite has happened, as drivers head for the motorway junction. Due south of Stockport centre, on the A6 heading towards the motorway, traffic also built up. Public transport in Stockport is patchy and rush hour traffic is slow. The M60 itself is seizing up.
The remedy proposed by Stockport Council for the past fifteen years involves building another big road. Part of the project is almost finished: a dual carriageway across the south west of the borough to Manchester Airport.
For the past three years preparations for the second phase have been edging forward. This would be a nine-kilometre dual carriageway from the A6 on the borough’s outskirts up to the M60 at Bredbury. The cost is a staggering half a billion pounds.
The A6-M60 Link goes through the outstanding fields and woods of the Lower Goyt Valley and the ancient woodland of the Poise Brook Valley nature reserve. A green chain of fields between two of Offerton’s housing estates and around the edge of Hazel Grove would be lost.
Damage is not restricted to nature and wildlife. People live along much of the route. Buildings of Dial Park Primary are within 100 metres of a proposed junction.
Advocates of the A6-M60 Link present it as common sense. The Council produced a business case last year that relegated troubling information to the appendices. These predicted that queuing on Stockport’s roads would double by 2039 with or without the A6-M60 Link. Clearly, maintaining and increasing car dependency is not a solution to Stockport’s transport problems.
The business case said nothing about how the new road itself would cope, beyond the assertion that its junctions would operate acceptably in the first year. The traffic forecasting method used is unable to predict “induced traffic” – the new journeys that fill up new roads.
Council officials created a synthetic need to rush the business case through the Council, to meet a non-existent deadline last December for a funding application to the Government.
At the crucial meeting of the Council on November 30th last year, a leading councillor presented a petition of 7,061 signatures against the A6-M60 Link. Councillors opposed to the new road were vocal but after a three-hour debate the vote was 43-14 to ask the Government for £500,000 for the next stage of development.
Supporters of Goyt Valley SOS! are continuing to campaign against the A6-M60 while waiting for the Government’s response on funding. The Department for Transport has indicated that a decision may have to wait until a new national round of road funding applications is launched.