Happy birthday M6 Toll
* Toll road is five-years old * Arguments over effectiveness * Number of vehicles using it is falling...
The M6 Toll motorway in the West Midlands will celebrate its fifth birthday this week, but arguments continue over whether the toll road has been a success.
The then Transport secretary, Alistair Darling, opened the 27-mile toll motorway in December 2003, and 68 million vehicles have since used the privately maintained highway.
The road's operator, Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL), says the route cuts journey times by 30 minutes during peak periods, while traffic has reduced by 10% on the free section through Birmingham.
MEL also says the M6 Toll road records about half of the national average figure for accidents on UK motorways, while the road has also created jobs and investment to the area.
However, reductions in journey time and traffic volumes are lower than were anticipated.
A public inquiry held 1995 found the road needed 100,000 vehicles a day to justify its existence. However, MEL says it only attracted 43,064 on average between July and September - down 12% on the figure for the same period in 2007.
Environmental groups say that the road hasn't cut congestion. Chris Crean of Friends of the Earth told the Birmingham Post, 'The M6 Toll has done nothing to ease congestion and has pumped ever-more carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere'
- Price increases for the M6 Toll will be introduced from January 1. Car drivers will face a 20p increase during the day and will now pay 4.70 to use the full stretch of the motorway.