Where is it?
M60 junction 12, the point where the Manchester outer ring road ends its multiplex with the M62, and where the biggest and busiest road between the ring road and city centre begins.
It was spotted by David Lawton.
What's wrong with it?
This is actually two junctions next to each other, since they each have their own problems, and together they cause more. The four-way motorway interchange looks deceptively good from the air — free flowing, which is more than can be said for many similar junctions. Unfortunately, it is absurdly small; northbound on the M60, the merge from the M602 is screened by bridge columns, and there is no acceleration lane because of the proximity of the next bridge along (which is too narrow). Just yards later, traffic from the M62 merges, and this is where the fun really begins, because the sliproad is carrying the entire M62 traffic flow. This is channeled into a lane gain, which is helpful, at first sight. At this point, the 300m countdown marker for the exit to the A572 appears, and M60 traffic is trying to fight its way into the new left hand lane to leave here. Thrills and spills. But wait, there's more!
Coming southbound, three downhill (and therefore fast moving, in good traffic) lanes of the M60 are joined by a fourth lane from the A572. Just a few hundred yards further along, the left hand two lanes of the M60 (including this new one) both dive off to the left towards the M62 and M602. The weaving on this short section of motorway is terrible, and at rush hour is truly a sight to behold.
Nasty, isn't it? Wait, there's more still. All the traffic at junction 13 with the A572 and A575 is usually stuck in a traffic jam — waiting to enter or leave the M60. The majority of it doesn't actually want to be there anyway, and is coming or going between the M60 and A580, which has only limited access further north. There is nothing unusual in traffic backing up all the way onto the mainline of the M60, and let's not forget that northbound that means it starts to block up the entry from the M62.
This junction is utterly unfit for the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that pass through it each day. And we haven't even begun to explore the poor alignment of sliproads, unexpected lane drops in other places, or the M62 turning a sharp corner here. Truly a masterpiece.
Why is it wrong?
Once upon a time, this was a simple place. The M63 Stretford-Eccles bypass entered from the south, turned a corner and ended on a roundabout on the A572. Ah, peace and serenity. Bit by bit, extensions and additions came. The M602 to the east, the M62 to the north and west. The sad thing is that it was always planned to be this way — the M63 was built with the motorway interchange in mind, and the original terminal point was simply turned into another junction despite it being much too close to the new one.
What would be better?
Well, having considered all of the above, the quickly-dropped 1980's plan to build a parallel motorway to carry the M62 and bypass the whole fiasco between here and junction 18 is starting to look like a good idea. Failing that, let's close off junction 13 and add in the missing movements at the A580. Perhaps we could also re-align some sliproads in the knot at junction 12 too.
Right to reply
I fully agree with what you have said about this. I have travelled through this junction for many years, since that part of the M62 to the M6 opened up. I have always felt that the M62 has both the worst (this one) and best (its junction with the M6) junctions in Europe. They seem to have improved the slipway taking traffic eastbound from the M62 from Liverpool though, from what it used to be.
As a regular user of this junction it isn't actually that bad to use. The bends from M60 clockwise to the M602 are sharp but generally if you take it at a sensible speed you should be fine.
The problem in this area is the close proximity of M60 Junction 13 - anticlockwise M60 traffic heading into Manchester (M602) has to cross two lanes to get in the right lane from the junction. The weaving can be hell raising at rush hour.
This one got me on my way from Hull to North Wales. I approached from the north and clearly saw the overhead signs that said I needed to be in the left hand lane to get (back) onto the M62, but instead of being a couple of miles of warning before the lane split, it was about ten seconds before I noticed the road markings changing, so I started moving across, only to find someone having joined from the A572 trying to travel in the opposite direction (sorry!). Two cars into one lane do not go and once we'd managed not to collide I had to brake heavily and hold up a couple of people (sorry again!) just to get onto the sliproad before the concrete bridge support got me. At least next time I know to hug that left hand lane as soon as I see the A572 junction approaching.
All these comments do not take into account the devastation being inflicted by Peel Holdings: first the Trafford Centre blocking junctions 9 and 10, and now plans to build the new Rugby stadium off the A572 and the Racecourse off the Worsley junction. No wonder they are against the congestion charging.
I regularly use this junction, coming down the M60 southbound for the M602. You learn quickly to get in the middle lane as you pass j13, switch to left lane, and pull left again into the new lane after the junction, whilst trying to avoid traffic that just came on for the M60 having to pull quickly right across two lanes. Needless to say, signage is poor on the approach.
Oh, and there have been numerous lories falling over on, or even from, the bridges due to the tight turns on the slip roads!
This was not a bad junction when built but it is very dangerous now and I think the previous comments highlight this: anyone familiar with the junction learns which lane to be in, but unfamiliar people are in the wrong lane causing panic lane changes or go through the junction far too fast (this is a particular problem with traffic joining the clockwise M60 from the M62 - cars fly down the slip road only to meet slow moving traffic that has just been slowed down by the M602/M62 junction).
I also wish they would just level it and rebuild it!
There's a U bend near us in the motorway,
It's been there a while
Sitting in style
Causing mayhem to travellers
To planners, a smile.
For twenty odd years it has sat sitting there
Disrupting free flow
And spreading despair,
Solutions abound but don't seem to function.
The U bend's still there
It's hid in a junction!
By-pass it I say!
And do it today
Via fields that are empty and don't block the way.
Horses for courses may have their say,
But the U bend in Worsley
Just won't fade away!
I used to do this junction daily. For the last 13 years I've lived in Italy (where I have a billion traffic-stories). I travelled Bolton-Wythenshaw for work. I got used to the lane changes - if I remember correctly it was A666 - bear left, merge, bear right, merge, accelerate + cross two lanes, merge, accelerate (I even advanced the timing on my poor old golf to have the required acceleration!) - what a palaver, and I thank the drivers that let me jump lanes - I wasn't 'cheating', I was getting ready for the next merge/ cross. Thankfully that big shopping centre wasn't there then, but I saw what was going to happen. I did the journey with an inexperienced driver a few months ago to get to Mc airport. Thankfully it was 0500 am! I used to set off at 0500...just to beat the traffic and the necessary jumps, and leave work at 1900+, same. For every 15 mins after 0500 I set off, it *added* 15 mins to the journey. And doubled the scare factor.
Who's idea was it to funnel everybody leaving Manchester city centre on the M602 into ONE LANE?
Cue a massive tailback every evening, worsened by the fact people who want to go south on the M60 (the minority) are forced to sit with the northbound folks. It's no surprise a lot of people just use the hard shoulder at the end of the queue to try and get on M60 south.
Closing J12 Worsley would gridlock the local area. A far better solution would to keep it open AND create new E&W entry/exit points off the A580. This isn't an either or as local traffic on the A580 is severely restricted through new lane reductions for buses - so only BOTH improvements would make a real difference to the flow of local and M60 traffic Sale to Oldham and vice versa.
I totally agree with you when you say this is a bad junction. The rush hour traffic coming to the M602 and they have to slow down the traffic too early completely ticks me off. One time when I went to Manchester my mum’s boyfriend’s car told us to go on the M61, the M60 and the M602. The way there was fine, we didn’t get caught in anything, but on the way back home, just after junction 2 was a nightmare. We were also in the wrong lane so while we were trying to get in the right lane (M60 towards M61) we couldn’t move, we had the right indicator on and everyone went through the hard shoulder. My advice to you is, always use the A580 instead of the M602 if you’re going there on the M61!
I have just come across this website and find fault with the original assessment. As designer of the junction I have to point out that there were severe restrictions on the size of the junction. It had to be squeezed in between the railway bridge to the south and a farm access bridge to the north. This would save considerable expense modifying the railway bridge and re-locating the farm access bridge. At least that was the original idea but the design was amended because a decision was taken to relocate the farm access bridge. Yes, there are problems associated with northbound traffic exiting to the A572 (known as the Worseley Courthouse junction) conflicting with M62 traffic from Liverpool, etc. entering at the Eccles Interchange. In truth I always knew the 2 junctions were too close together but full spec. for motorway junctions had not yet been drawn up by the Dept. of Transport (or whatever it was know as at the time). The A572 junction should never have been built but local pressure on Lancs CC resulted in more junctions to satisfy local politicians. Similar problems are experienced on the M60 southbound (counter-clockwise) in which M60 traffic has to move over to the 2 nearside lanes for destinations either east or west but conflicts with traffic entering from the A572. Again, a problem with having the 2 junctions too close together. There is nothing wrong with the alignment of the slip roads. I spent months cramming what I could into a very small space. The radii are the maximum possible making use of maximum permitted super-elevation. I have to express my disgust at the time when the Lancs CC traffic section redesigned the exits of various slip roads onto the main M60 (was M62) and narrowed the exits down to single lane with vast areas of hatched markings. It has to be borne in mind that this junction was designed by me in the late 1960s and traffic predictions were in their infancy. As with many parts of the motorway network, we never expected the huge traffic flows that they are now carrying, the classic one being the first section of the M6, the Preston By-pass which went from 2-lane dual carriageways to 3-lane and then to 4-lane and even now is static on Bank Holidays. Rumour has it that when Sir James Drake went to the Dept of Transport asking for finance to build the Preston By-Pass the design was for 3 -lane layout but the DfT laughed at his idea and told him they would only fund it if it was built with just 2 lanes in each direction. It was his foresight that the design included a very wide central reservation so that the 3rd lane could be added without any bridge alterations or additional land-take. When I started to drive at the age of 17 in 1960 there were approx 3.5 million vehicle on British roads, There are now some 38 million and still increasing.
I too, used to work in central Manchester (2004-9 for Atkins Consulting) and often took the M602 out to the M60 and then depart onto the M61 and experienced the queues first hand. However there was an alternative - continue towards Liverpool on the M62 and then join the M6 northwards. There were queues everywhere so it's not just the Eccles Interchange that is suffering, there are hold-ups seemingly at random across the motorway network. The price of individual personal mobility.
Thanks you for this interesting and truly well-informed contribution. It's wonderful to hear from the person who actually designed the roads here, so that we can appreciate the constraints and how much engineering went into making the best of the difficult hand that had been dealt to the engineers. I expect there would be similar stories about other 'bad' junctions -- engineers like to do a good job and don't go out of their way to annoy users of their products!
It amazes me that no one foresaw how much road traffic would increase after the motorways first appeared. I believe it was Mr Parkinson who came up with Parkinsons law, basically it says "work increases to fill the time available. And as Mr Marples decided to close all those miles of railway tracks and stations and not provide buses how did the planners think people were going to commute? I remember talking to my dad about this and his theory with regards to the rise of road traffic dated back to a 3 week national rail strike in 1955. Lots of blokes whod learnt to drive in the forces decided to get themselves a car on the HP. And as it was made easier to get HP you have the growth of road traffic. Mind you the carriage of goods on the road was growing pre wwii.
Slightly off topic but I have to ask this question. Why was the motorway number changed from m63 to M60?
It was because the M60 was the new Manchester Outer Orbital, and it included some sections of previously built Motorway, including the M63.
Thanks for that. But I suppose we could start a whole new thread on the subject of road numbering in this country!