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M60 plagued by floods and spray - Highways Agency

A SENIOR Highways Agency official has admitted that drainage and surfacing problems are causing serious flooding on a recently built section of the M60 near Manchester.

'The spray being experienced is worse than anticipated from that on other similar motorway surfaces, ' said Highways Agency board director Richard Bennett in a letter to a local MP seen by NCE.

Bennett was writing on behalf of Agency chief executive Archie Robertson.

He also confirmed that there are problems with the road structure and drainage.

Flooding on the M60 is most severe at junction 23 by Ashton under Lyne. The anti-clockwise section here incorporates a four lane carriageway, a two lane slip road and hard shoulder.

Last week, that section of the carriageway was closed for seven hours and fire fighters pumped floodwater up to 700mm deep along 300m of carriageway into fields.

The flood-prone section is Sshaped and stretches for 6km north from junction 24 at Denton towards junction 22 at Oldham.

This section was built by Amec and Alfred McAlpine for £141M and opened in October 2000, 18 months late (NCE 2 November 2000).

'In addition to the spray problem there are a number of issues associated with other pavement layers and the motorway drainage system, ' said Bennett in his letter to Denton & Reddish MP Andrew Bennett.

'These are being investigated in parallel and we will know the full extent of the problem in the next month or so, ' he wrote.

The letter was dated 30 July 2004, but the Agency said this week that it would be another month before it could reveal the findings of the study.

So far the investigation has taken 18 months.

Highway engineers said that a change in camber on the S-bend created a flat length of road where water was collecting.

'If there is a longfall (hill) on the carriageway such a bend will be OK, but if the road is flat you may get ponding, ' said one consultant.

Highways Agency M60 project leader John Dutson confirmed that the road alignment on the S-shaped section was being examined as part of the investigation.

The Highways Agency has been investigating excessive standing water and spray between junctions 19 and 23 since April 2003. This extended last winter to include junction 24.

The stretch between junction 19 and 22 also opened in October 2000 but was built by Balfour Beatty at a cost of £50M.

The Highways Agency investigation is being managed by Mouchel Parkman.

The Agency said it was too early to comment on the cause of the flooding, or the contractual implications this might have.

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