The M6 Toll Road opened on Tuesday December 9th. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling cut the ribbon and declared the road open. Traffic had already been queueing to use the new road. This stretch of motorway is 27 miles long and runs from Junction 4 to Junction 11 of the M6. It is hoped that this will ease traffic congestion on the heavily used M6 which was designed to carry 70,000 vehicles a day but handles over 180,000 a day.
The cost of this project is £900 million and four of the biggest firms in the world are responsible for its construction. The building of this 27 mile long motorway is not without controversy and the route it takes has cut through part of the regions precious green belt. Several public enquiries and many objections were raised against its construction but the Northern Relief Road has finally been completed ahead of schedule. The owners are Midland Expressway Ltd ( An Australian Company ) and the charges vary according to the vehicle size. It is also a free market on charges so expect charges to rise if the motorway is used by a high volume of traffic.
The campaigners against the Toll Road sent in more than 10,000 letters of objection and authorities and the road builders were plagued with protesters camping and entrenching themselves to obstruct the builders. The new route includes 50 new bridges, maintenance areas and a service area at Norton Canes. The motorway is not immediately open at all entrance and exit points although this will take place over the coming weeks and new signage will provide details of the alternative route to motorists.
Current charges for using the new motorway are £2 for cars and £10 for lorries. Public opinion is divided on the charges although many of those interviewed argue that the time and fuel saved by using the motorway far outway the costs.
A major point to consider is that should this be successful we could see more motorway charges being introduced as new roads are built. Do we really want to end up like France and Italy and pay for our motorway journeys?