Major technology upgrade set to transform M6 journeys

08 Feb 2021


A major technology upgrade to improve journeys of one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the country is due to start next month.

Highways England will begin construction work to transform the 10-mile stretch of the M6 which links the M62 near Warrington (junction 21a) to the M58 near Wigan (junction 26).

Over 120,000 vehicles travelled along the route every day before lockdown restrictions were introduced, and the new upgrade will increase capacity by a third as well as using new technology to relieve congestion.

New radar detectors positioned along the motorway will monitor the flow of traffic and automatically detect any stationary vehicles, and the hard shoulder will be permanently converted to an extra lane to provide four traffic lanes in each direction.

A total of 92 electronic signs will also be used to set variable speed limits to prevent stop-start conditions, and close lanes by displaying red Xs during incidents. And 39 new CCTV cameras will provide live images of the motorway 24 hours a day at Highways England’s regional operations centre in Newton-le-Willows.

Drivers will be able to find out more about the plans during special online events taking place later this month.
Agnes Usciak, Highways England’s project manager, said: “The improvements we’re planning for the M6 between Warrington and Wigan will provide quicker, safer and more reliable journeys for the tens of thousands of drivers who travel along the route every day.

“We’re encouraging as many people as possible to join our online events later in February to find our more about the scheme and put their questions to the project team.”

Highways England is launching a virtual exhibition on Thursday 18th February, and you can take part in a live chat with the project team from midday to 2pm on Friday 19th February; 2pm to 4pm on Sunday 21st February; and 10am to midday on Monday 22nd February.

The virtual exhibition will stay live for the duration of the motorway upgrade and is available at

The M6 scheme will also include replacing the metal barrier in the central reservation with a new concrete barrier to help increase safety and reduce maintenance, as well as resurfacing lanes one and four on both carriageways.

Drivers will also be able to use one of 10 new emergency areas as a safer place to stop if they experience a breakdown, with roadside telephones providing a direct link to the regional operations centre.

Highways England’s contractors will carry out the work in sections to reduce the impact on drivers, with narrow lanes and temporary speed limits in place on stretches of the M6 where construction work is underway. The scheme is due to start by the end of March and be completed by spring 2023.