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M62. Lancashire - Yorkshire Motorway

The M62, the Lancashire Yorkshire motorway was regarded by both Lancashire and the West Riding County Councils as a critical development, replacing several cross-Pennine roads which were of a very low standard, and notoriously vulnerable to severe winter weather.   This seriously inhibited industrial traffic between the two sides of the Pennines, and access to the ports of Liverpool and Hull. The planning stage differed with each authority.

Lancashire

The 1949 Road Plan for Lancashire included the following highway proposals in South Lancashire:-

1. The dualling of the East Lancashire Road A580, with provision for the grade separation of junctions

2. A by-pass of Huyton between Roby and Rainhill Stoops

3. A by-pass of Cadishead and Irlam, together with the upgrading of the A57 between Warrington and the proposed North-South motorway (M6)

On the completion of the M6 through Cheshire, it was envisaged that, traffic moving between Liverpool and the South, would use the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge and the A533/A530/A54 route to connect with the M6 at Holmes Chapel Interchange (Junction 18).

By the early 1960's, it became apparent that these proposals would be inadequate, as there was an urgent need to,

1. connect the Port of Liverpool directly into the motorway network and,

2. reduce the number of traffic accidents in the Merseyside/South Lancashire area

In 1962, Drake visited the USA where he saw, at first hand, the development of the Interstate system of expressways and returned with the strongly held view that there was a case for a completely new section of motorway from Liverpool across South Lancashire to connect with the M6. It was an imaginative proposal, initially referred to as the Merseyside Expressway, but after further consideration, and preliminary traffic studies, it was concluded that it should be extended eastwards to connect with Stretford-Eccles By-pass section of the Manchester Outer Ring Road. It would, therefore, link with the new section of motorway, which was to supersede the proposed 'Yorkshire Branch Road', thereby resulting in a continuous length of motorway from Liverpool through to the Yorkshire boundary.

Initially it did not gain the support of the Ministry of Transport as it was considered that, as the East Lancashire Road had been designed to a comparatively high standard, and could be upgraded, its duplication was not justified.

Following further representations, the scheme was added to the Road Programme, in 1963. Investigations into possible routes and preliminary design work, began in 1965 within the County Surveyor's Department. On the formation of the North West Road Constructions Unit, in April 1967, the design team became part of the Lancashire Sub-Unit.

West Riding 

In the late 1930's, as part of a national plan, it had been envisaged that a new road would be constructed from Liverpool to Hull, linking these ports with the industrial areas of South Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.

The war prevented any progress, but in 1947 the Minister of Transport appointed Engineers to undertake an investigation for a new road to motorway standards between the Trunk Road A580, at Swinton, in Lancashire, and the Trunk Road A1 at Selby Fork in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The A580 in Lancashire and the A63 in Yorkshire having been considered as providing satisfactory links to the two ports. This early reconnaissance work was completed in 1952, but the national economic situation would not allow action to be taken to develop the scheme further. The route however, was incorporated in the County Development Plan to protect it from future development.

Following a review by the West Riding County Council towards the end of 1960 it became evident, in the light of the experience gained on motorways in operation at that time, that the line of the Lancashire-Yorkshire Motorway laid down in 1952 was unsatisfactory. In particular it did not cater for the industrial traffic of the heavy woollen and mining areas.

A primary need in the conurbation area was for a motorway which could tap its major industrial potential to the benefit of the whole country, and also provide the backbone of an inter-urban traffic system. The original line for the motorway did not do this. Additional problems with the route were the crossing of the Pennines at a very high altitude which would have created severe difficulties under winter weather conditions, and the distance between junctions with the original layout could not achieve the high safety standards required.

A case for re-appraisal of the Lancashire-Yorkshire Motorway line was put to the Ministry of Transport for consideration, who, after consultation, decided to review the whole route. In 1961 the West Riding and Lancashire County Councils accepted an invitation to act as Agent Authorities in the location of a new route for the Lancashire-Yorkshire Motorway and work commenced in August 1961.

It is reputed that the County Surveyors Drake and Lovell met near Windy Hill and on the flip of a coin decided which County should lead in the naming of the M62 - Lovell lost - and it became the Lancashire - Yorkshire Motorway.