PLANS TO ditch the M6 widening plan in favour of a toll funded parallel expressway could delay construction by 10 years, motoring organisation the AA warned this week.
It said that the original plan to widen the road to four lanes could be constructed quickly and relatively easily, but that an entirely new four lane road would face many more hurdles.
'Our main worry is that the infrastructure is overheating now and that this [toll road] could put widening off for at least 10 years if a lengthy public inquiry is needed, ' said AA head of roads and transport Paul Watters.
Transport secretary Alistair Darling brushed aside Highways Agency widening plans in July when he published the plans to extend the existing M6 toll north of Birmingham (NCE 8 July).
The move has also been slammed by environmental groups and Staffordshire residents.
The Campaign for Rural England said that the damage to the countryside would be 'immense'.
Local Labour MP David Kidney has held a series of public meetings throughout the summer and will present the findings from these to transport minister David Jamieson later this month.
Darling has given interested parties until 21 September to comment on his proposal.
The Highways Agency said that early indications showed a favourable response from industry.
It added that because the existing widening plans will require some new land take, both schemes are likely to involve a statutory public inquiry.