RUGBY League and Union fans heading into Manchester for landmark fixtures on Saturday are being urged to plan their journeys carefully.
The city is hosting both the Rugby League Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and a Rugby Union World Cup match between England and Uruguay at the City of Manchester (Etihad) Stadium.
Highways England will be working hard to keep fans and other city centre visitors on the move around the local motorway network with dedicated advice for the separate groups of fans being displayed on its network of electronic message signs. Routine maintenance across the local motorway network has been cancelled to give fans smoother journeys – although drivers are being reminded the Manchester Smart Motorway project means narrowed lanes and a 50mph speed limit along parts of the M60 and M62 north of Manchester.
The rugby league final – between Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos - starts at 6pm with the world cup match at 8pm. An international boxing fixture is also taking place at Manchester Arena on Saturday evening with as many as 140,000 sports fans heading into Manchester and back out again throughout the day.
All 3 venues are next to or near Metrolink tram stops and spectators driving to the events are being urged to use Transport for Manchester park and ride sites with more information at www.tfgm.com/journey_planning/ParkandRide
Supporters heading to England’s match with Uruguay are being urged to arrive early and visit the fan zones at Albert Square in Manchester city centre and outside the Etihad itself before heading to the match.
Highways England Events Planning Manager Phil Stockford said: “While we are used to planning for big events in Manchester the city is likely to be exceptionally busy for a large part of the day and late into the evening with congestion possible on key motorway routes such as the M602, M60 and M62.
“We’re urging drivers heading into Manchester to plan and leave extra time for journeys, heed travel advice and electronic signs and perhaps travel on another day if they are not going to any of the events and wish to avoid congestion.”
Highways England traffic officers at the regional control centre at Newton-le-Willows will be monitoring traffic, setting electronic signs and dispatching extra patrols of traffic officers to clear up any incidents as quickly as possible to keep supporters and other motorway users on the move. They will also be keeping a close eye on the potential for heavy traffic before and after the game.
Drivers are being urged to check travel conditions before setting out on journeys. Highways England provides live traffic information via its website www.trafficengland.com local and national radio travel bulletins and electronic road signs and. Information is also available from Twitter via @highwaysNWEST.
Providing they can do so safely, road users can also call the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000 to keep up to date with road conditions.
Extra public transport is being provided to support the rugby world cup throughout the day full information at the Rugby World Cup website with www.rugbyworldcup.com/travel