Long-running roadworks on the M6 have caused drivers to abandon the main route and pay to use the toll road instead, figures revealed today.
Traffic numbers have been accelerating on the M6 Toll road as fed-up drivers flee traffic snarl-ups and roadworks on the main M6 artery through the region.
On peak working days over the three months from July to September, 48,309 vehicles a day have used the privately-owned toll road – an increase of 11.8 per cent on the amount of traffic at the same point a year ago.
But the biggest increase was at weekends and during holidays, when traffic increased by 16.7 per cent to 35,201 vehicles a day.
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Average daily traffic over the three months was up 13.3 per cent. An M6 Toll spokesman said this was: “Mostly as a result of the positive impact of the roadworks on competing sections of the M6 motorway, which is continuing through 2013.”
Drivers using the M6 face a combination of narrow lanes, reduced speed zones enforced by cameras and occasional night-time lane closures. Earlier this month M6 Toll operators
Midland Expressway revealed the roadworks on the rival road had cut its losses by £5 million in 2012 to £36.7 million.
And Midland Expressways directors said they expected to benefit from continuing disruption on the M6 throughout this year.
More than 13 million people used the pay road last year but a hike in toll revenues – currently £5.50 for a car during weekdays and £11 for a lorry – helped boost toll revenue by 3.9 per cent to £58.05 million.
But, looking ahead, Midland Expressway admitted it may face ‘significant challenges’ to its ability to attract vehicles and revenue after the M6 works are completed in 2014.
The 27-mile toll road was built to carry up to 72,000 vehicles a day, diverting traffic away from the already overloaded and congested M6 as it ran through the Midlands when it opened in December 2003.
But after reaching a peak of 55,000 vehicles a day in 2006 usage of the pay road had been declining until the start of major roadworks on the M6 in the spring of last year.
Since then, drivers have been hit by a string of delays and slowdowns, largely due to work on the £126 million project to open up the hard shoulder of the M6.
The work is due to last for two years – until next spring – and speed cameras and temporary CCTV has been installed to monitor vehicles’ speeds and check for broken down vehicles and other incidents.
The work has often continued for 24-hours a day, with sections of the motorway closed late at night during periods of low use.
This has forced drivers to take diversions either through Birmingham or the M6 Toll.