HIGHWAYS chiefs are hoping a new traffic light system will soon bring an end to weeks of motoring misery at a major local motorway junction.
Alterations have been made at Haydock Island where junction 23 of the M6 meets the East Lancashire Road after enormous tailbacks stretched up the A49 as far as Ashton town centre.
Highways England had hoped to install the sensor-controlled lights as part of the £4.1m transformation of Haydock Island when the new lay-out opened last month, but was thwarted by teething troubles.
Demands for action have also been made by Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue after she received numerous complaints from unhappy Wigan drivers who had been stuck in enormous queues trying to drive south from the borough.
Highways bosses have now switched off the lights on the A49 to try to shorten the queues and hope the new lighting system will go live on June 15.
Highways England asset delivery manager Andy Withington said: “We’d like to thank drivers for their patience while we work to get the new traffic light system up and running, and also to apologise for the congestion they may have experienced in the past few weeks.
“We have temporarily switched off the traffic lights on the A49 approaches so that drivers can use the junction as a normal roundabout.
“Drivers travelling on the A580 should still find it much quicker to use the short cut through the centre of the roundabout as we now have four lanes running in each direction, including dedicated lanes for the M6.
“We are doing everything we can to resolve the teething issues we’ve had with the new traffic lights so that road users can start fully benefiting from the improved layout as quickly as possible.”
Ms Fovargue said she was pleased the concerns she had raised had been heard but said the new sensor system will need close monitoring when it is activated to ensure the massive tailbacks do not return.
She said: “I’d like to thank Highways England for taking the time to listen to the concerns I expressed on behalf of motorists.
“They acknowledged that the traffic light signals were not working effectively and that this had contributed to the tailbacks on the A49 from Ashton town centre.
“Once the sensor systems are in place, I have asked that they are monitored closely to ensure that we have no repeat of the unacceptable delays that motorists have faced in recent weeks.”
Drivers turning right onto the M6 can now cut through the centre of the roundabout rather than going all the way around, with vehicles leaving the motorway also able to turn right onto the East Lancs Road.
A dedicated left-turn lane has been created for the A49 from the roundabout and the slip road from the M6’s northbound carriageway extended.
The scheme is one of Highways England’s pinch point projects to cut congestion and tackle bottlenecks.
For more information, visit www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/m6-junction-23-roundabout-improvement