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M61 Traffic News

The M61 is a relatively short stretch of motorway, in the north west of England. It spans for around 22 miles in length, starting in Worsley, which is located in the Salford area of Greater Manchester, and joins in with the M6 just to the south of Preston. 

It serves as a route for those travelling out of Manchester and towards the north-west of the UK. As well as connecting with the M6 and being able to drive beyond Preston, Lancaster, to the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and up to Carlisle, the M61 links to the M65. This provides a route to Blackburn and Burnley.

In terms of construction, it only took a short time to build, with work beginning in 1969 and being completed in 1970. If you’re driving on the M61, be aware that there is only one service station on this motorway - you’ll find Rivington services located between junction 6 (Bolton) and junction 8 (Chorley).

That’s right - there is no junction 7 of the M61. When construction on the motorway started, the decision was taken not to have one. The exact reason why has never been officially confirmed, though it is occasionally raised as a potential requirement when traffic plans are discussed.

Worst Junctions on the M61

The M61 may be one of the shorter stretches of motorway in the UK, but that doesn’t make it immune to traffic delays - vehicle volume coming out of Manchester can be substantial, especially during peak hours. Some junctions tend to get busier than others - check RAC Traffic News before you travel to stay aware of any delays - and one of those is certainly the Worsley Braided Interchange.

The Worsley Braided Interchange ranks as one of the most complex interchanges in the country. It acts as a junction for several motorways - not just junction 1, 2 and 3 of the M61, but also junction 14 and 15 of the M60, and junction 14 and 14A of the M62. At one point, you can see 18 motorway lanes running in parallel. 

A quirky fact is that this was once known, briefly, as Spaghetti Junction when it was built - until it was realised that this nickname had already been given to the equally complex junction of the M6 in Birmingham. So, Worsley escaped the notoriety of the infamous tag, but remains a difficult junction, where congestion is common.

Junction 2 of the M61, at Walkden, and Junction 3 of the motorway - at Kearsley - have also been flagged as particularly busy junctions, where delays are possible.

Accident Hotspots on the M61

With traffic build-up getting heavy in and around certain junctions of the M61, accidents can unfortunately occur. Using RAC traffic news can keep you informed of any accidents that might occur on the M61, meaning you can plan for any potential delays and try to avoid affected areas. 

The Highways Agency introduced extra signage at the Kearsley junction of the M61, which had seen a spate of accidents, in an attempt to improve safety. However, it remains a difficult part of the road.

In April 2018, the M61 was closed for several hours between junctions 6 and 8 as a result of a collision. In 2017, three vehicles were involved in a crash near to junction 4, Farnworth.

Upcoming M61 Major Roadworks

Highways England carried out improvements to roadworks in May 2018, which resulted in lane closures. The overnight work affected junctions 5 to 8. Check RAC traffic news before you travel to stay updated on similar roadworks, which may affect your journey.

Looking further ahead, there have been long-term plans for a new road network investment programme, which would have an affect on the M61 in and around the Bolton area. Proposals have been made by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Wigan Council and Bolton Council for a £132 road network. If the plans get the go-ahead, this could see junction 26 of the M6 linking through to junction 5 of the M61.