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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 13:58 GMT
M6 Toll time draws near
M6 Toll map
The road will cost nearly 900m
The country's first toll motorway is on budget and on schedule to see its first motorist paying to avoid the congested M6 in the New Year, its private operator has said.

The 27-mile long stretch of the M6 Toll, which is built and managed by Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL) on a 53-year lease from the Government, is set to open its gates within 10 weeks.

MEL's managing director Tom Fanning said he believed private, fleet and commercial vehicles would see the benefit of paying between 1 for a motorcycle and 10 for HGVs to save an estimated 45 minutes journey time at rush hour by avoiding the busy stretch of the existing M6 north of Birmingham.

Speaking to BBC News Online at the 900m project headquarters in Weeford, Staffs, on Tuesday, he said: "You have to ask the question - how much do you value your time? It's 2 to save 45 minutes.

"Frankly, that's half the price of a sandwich."

Fleet of vehicles

Mr Fanning said the existing stretch of the M6 was designed to take around 72,000 vehicles a day, but now witnessed up to 180,000 motorists using the route daily.

Around 140 staff have been employed to staff the toll route and a fleet of gritters and maintenance vehicles are standing by to help keep it running.

M6 Toll bosses promise to provide a "free flowing alternative" to the M6 and admit that if it proves too popular they may be forced to increase prices to cut down on traffic levels.

Once a final date is agreed the M6 Toll will undergo a phased opening over five days to ensure that the toll gates are operating properly and to monitor traffic flow as it builds up.

'Complex process'

Mr Fanning explained "Opening a road is a very complex process and motorists' safety must be paramount."

Its use will initially be restricted to local motorists joining the route from its Lichfield, Tamworth, Sutton Coldfield, Brownhills and Cannock junctions.

Motorists will then be allowed to join from the existing M6 at both ends of the route - junction four and 11.

The road will boast a 68-acre service area at Norton Canes, to be operated on a 25-year contract by Road Chef.

The road's operators have had talks with the UK's leading hauliers and fleet operators to encourage them to use an electronic tag system to use the motorway.

Mr Fanning added: "Early sales of tags are encouraging. We believe the M6 Toll will become the route of choice for industry."




SEE ALSO:
Toll road director quits
10 May 03  |  West Midlands
Road toll levy announced
06 May 03  |  England
Most drivers 'would pay tolls'
17 May 02  |  UK News
Road tolls 'inevitable'
02 May 02  |  UK News


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