Simister Island Pic
Junction 18 of the M60 is problematic for motorists. Image from Google

Contractor picked for £138m Simister Island overhaul

Neil Tague

Costain has been selected as the delivery integration partner to design and build the improvement project at the critical North Manchester junction.

Highways England has appointed Costain and partner Jacobs to design and manage the construction of the junction improvement, which is part of the Government’s RIS2 programme included in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s March 2020 Budget.

The Simister Island interchange links the M60 Greater Manchester orbital motorway to the east-west M62 and the M66 heading northwards.

The interchange, at junction 18 of the M60, is one of the busiest motorway junctions in the region, used by around 90,000 vehicles per day, a much greater volume than it was originally designed for.

The scheme aims to reduce peak congestion and provide faster average speeds, delivering more reliable journeys and reducing journey times overall.

Close to Prestwich, Simister Island has been referred to as the “missing link” in the M60, representing a flawed solution amid the completion of the M60 orbital, with eastbound drivers currently having to leave the motorway in order to rejoin it.

Different options for the junction project were floated at consultation last year, including the introduction of new direct loops improving traffic flow.

Further public consultation on the scheme is now being planned for this winter, with a planning application set to follow next year. If the plans are approved by Government, work on the project could start by spring 2025.

Malcolm Bell, Costain programme director, said: “This is a critical project supporting economic growth in the North of England; improving traffic flow that connects businesses and communities.

“Costain will deploy digital tools to improve productivity and effectiveness throughout the programme to enable the timely delivery of safer, greener and more efficient roads.”

In early 2020, Costain and partners Skanska and Balfour Beatty delivered the £1.5bn A14 project six months ahead of schedule, improving journeys between the Midlands and the East of England.

The news comes as a legal challenge to the Department for Transport’s £27bn five-year road investment strategy, known as RIS2 and in which Simister Island is included, kicks off in the High Court.

The judicial review action has been launched by campaign group Transport Action Network, which claims that DfT estimates on carbon emissions generated by the plans are much lower than those estimated by its own studies.

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