M42 Junction 9 — Dunton Island — intelligence test:
Which route would you take to get to Lichfield?
- The M6 Toll is Britain's first and only toll motorway.
- It was opened to the public in December 2003.
- It runs along the northern and eastern edges of the West Midlands conurbation bypassing the existing urban section of the M6.
- It runs parallel with the A446 and A5.
Having already alienated truckers with their extortionate charges, Midland Expressway are now foolishly about to go into battle with motorcyclists.
Motorcyclists venturing onto the M6 Toll find the toll booth operators demanding £2.50 during the day or £1.50 at night. This is despite there being no price shown for motorcycles on any of the charge signs as you approach the motorway.
On many other toll routes in the UK, such as the Dartford Crossing and the Severn Bridge, motorcycles travel free.
Bloody-Minded Tool Booth Operator Holds Up Ambulance
In an amazing demonstration of bloody-mindedness, a toll booth operator on the M6 Toll refused to let an ambulance through the toll barriers without paying. The vehicle was a paramedic car in full ambulance livery travelling to provide emergency cover in Lichfield. Whilst trying to persuade the operator to use his brain, the paramedic received an emergency call, but only when the driver put his blue lights on did the operator raise the barrier. The toll road operators subsequently had the stupidity to back up the toll booth operator instead of sacking him, and continued to claim the car was not marked as an ambulance despite having blue lights and green chequered stripes. Duuuugh. So someone's life was put a risk for a miserly £3.
News — Greater Manchester Police ACC Fined for 104mph on M6 Toll
A report in the Evening Mail claims drivers have been taking advantage of the light traffic on the motorway to drive at what it describes as 'deadly speeds'. In Germany of course, speeds of over 100mph are commonplace on the Autobahns with no problem, but why let such facts get in the way of a little headline hysteria?
One cynic suggested to us that the whole story was a ruse put out by Midland Expressway in the hope of encouraging more drivers to use the motorway.
Now there's thought — if the road operators had the gumption to put a higher speed limit on their road they would be highly likely to attract more customers. Many drivers would regard the time saved by the reduced journey time as making the toll worthwhile.
Unfortunately, with society so brainwashed by anti-speed propaganda, such forward-thinking seems unlikely in the present climate.
Toll Road? No Thanks!
Britain's drivers are voicing their opinion on the new M6 Toll by not using it. During January 2003 the highest number of vehicles using it in one day was only 41,000. Levels of 75,000 had been predicted. Even a busy suburban road can carry 10,000 vehicles per day.
In January, traffic jams occured on the M6 Toll during the rush hour when roadworks necessitated the closure of two lanes near junction T3. The roadworks were needed because large puddles had formed on the carriageway — apparently the constructors had some difficultly understanding that water flows downhill.
Public relations experts Midland Expressway have refused to comment.
- Evening Mail — Gridlock on M6 Toll
Drivers stuck in the jam, having paid the toll to avoid congestion on the M6, have begun demanding their money back (Call Midland Expressway's helpline on 0870-850-6262 or write to Customer Services, Midland Expressway Ltd, Operations Centre, Watling Street, Weeford, Lichfield, WS14 0BR).
- Evening Mail — Toll to face jam payout
A bit of common sense would have told them to simply open the main southbound toll barriers for free passge at the time the congestion was occurring. Duuuuugh.
Drivers have not exactly been queuing to use the new motorway, and those that have found themselves stuck in a queue are amazed to find that it is only because the junctions at either end have been so badly designed. Southbound, traffic wishing to use the M6 has filter left and to squash into two lanes, causing a tailback that then delays access to the M6 Toll. Northbound the junction and signs are so confusing that they are likely to cause accidents. The section of the road from the M6 northbound to the M42 (and Junction 9) is free, but it is confusingly sign-posted as 'M6 Toll' causing drivers to think they'll have to pay a toll.
A virtually deserted M6 Toll at 09:00 on Tuesday 16th December 2003.
The short single-lane exit slip road at junction T3 northbound is just one of the questionnable design features of the new motorway.
© Pro-Motor Ltd 2003
To distinguish them from the existing M6, junctions are numbered with a 'T' prefix bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase 'T junction'. Concerns have already been expressed about some of the design features of the new road. The photo on the right shows junction T3 northbound; the northbound exit and southbound entry slip roads are only one lane, and are very short. The exit slip road in particular has a comparitively sharp left bend as soon as you leave the main carriageway.
Two new roundabouts have been constructed on the A38 at this junction. These have traffic lights that operate even when no traffic is coming off the M6 Toll (which is most of the time) causing unnecessary delays to local traffic.
Car drivers were initially be charged £3, although the first 10 million vehicles got £1 off, with further permanent reductions at night. Langley Mill toll (junction T3) is half price because you only use a few miles of the new motorway.
The Motorcycle Action Group have called on the road's operators to exempt motorcycles from any toll.
The main toll booths southbound are at Weeford between T4 and T3, the main northbound at Great Wyrley between T6 and T7. Reduced speed limits will apply near the toll booths. If you come off before the main toll booths, you'll find toll booths on the exit sliproads, after the main toll booths they'll be on the entry sliproads, so there's no free section except the link from the M6 to the M42 that should have been built when the M42 was built.
FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY
HGVs are boycotting the new motorway in protest at the high tolls. As a result of this, the single carriageway A446 that runs alongside part of the M6 Toll is often one long convoy of trucks, whilst trucks are hardly ever seen on the motorway itself.
“With 63 trucks on the go every day, we canít afford to use it. We occasionally get a call from one of our drivers who is running a late or stuck in traffic, asking for authorisation, but it has to be an emergency for us to allow a driver to use the M6 Toll.”
Paul McLean, Transport Manager, K Transport Services
(See our Warwickshire page for details of a new Truvelo speed camera on the A446).
The road operators were so concerned they dropped the price for 2 axle trucks from £10 to £5 until June 2004.
Poor design on some interchanges
Several more examples of bad design have come to light. Alongside Dunton Island (at the junction of the M6 Toll, M42, A446, and A4097) a ridiculously small roundabout has been constructed to give access to the M6 Toll northbound entry slip (junction T1). This roundabout was damaged by HGVs before the motorway was even opened because it is too small for articulated vehicles to get round without going over the kerbs on the island. The roundabout also features a filter lane for vehicles leaving Dunton Island onto the A4097 westbound, which is pointless and an accident waiting to happen.
The roundabout on the A38 beneath junction T3 is also poorly designed, being too small and with a bad camber. Totally unnecessary traffic lights on both A38 roundabouts cause anger as they force drivers to stop even when, as usual, there is nothing coming off the motorway.
Local road signs have already been altered to divert unwary drivers onto the new road. At the A446/M42 junction the signs saying "A446 Lichfield" have been replaced by "A446 Wishaw". Wishaw is a tiny hamlet of about a dozen houses that lies off the A446. This sign change is a blatant indication of a conspiracy between the Highways Agency and the toll road operators to direct strangers to the area onto the toll road when there is a perfectly good road 'A' road they can use for free. Our advice for those heading for Lichfield from the south is to use the A446 and A38 and save yourself £3.50 or more.
In Cannock, traffic heading east to Lichfield or Tamworth is directed onto the toll road, despite the fact that the A5 goes straight to Lichfield and Tamworth and is free. Don't fall for their con trick, use the A5!
Construction of the road took a disgraceful 24 years since it was first announced.
No wonder Britain's motorway network is so inadequate.
Elsewhere on the ABD website:
- M6 Toll official site
- Macquarie Infrastructure Group
The Australian parent company of Midland Expressway
- M6 Toll
- Highway 407 and 407 ETR
A toll highway around Toronto which is the subject of a legal battle with the Canadian government after the price was raised six times in five years. Macquarie have a 43% interest in the company.
- Central Motorway Police Group
The M6 Toll is patrolled by CMPG, a joint operation between Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia, and West Midlands Police.
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