M60 Denton to Middleton (J19 to J24)

In 1976 the firm of L G Mouchel & Partners, Consulting Engineers, was appointed to design the scheme for the long-awaited final section of the Manchester Outer Ring Road. Between December 1978 and August 1980 a Public Consultation exercise was carried out. Although a line had been protected by the local authorities in the area since the 1960's, several local variations were also submitted for consideration.

A Public Inquiry was held during 1986-87 and the line was finally determined in 1988. Following a further Public Inquiry in 1991-92 into the Side Road and Compulsory Purchase Orders, the statutory procedures were completed in 1993.

The 10 mile section of motorway extends from the M67/M60/A57 interchange at Denton to the M60/A576 junction at Middleton. The route passes through a wide variety of landscapes, much of it urban in character. There are four additional interchanges; at the A635 west of Ashton; A62 at Hollinwood; A663 Broadway; and a partial junction with the A664 Rochdale Road. The existing junctions at Denton and Middleton have been converted to full movement operation.

After considering various options, it was decided to separate the work into four major roadworks contracts and several large advance works contracts.

The southern section of the route passes through one of three reservoirs at Audenshaw. To replace the water storage capacity lost to North West Water, a 20 mile long water main was laid in advance, from the Goyt Valley in Derbyshire to feed the remaining two reservoirs.

Another significant water supply to the Manchester area is provided by a pipeline from Haweswater in the Lake District. The route of the Ring Road crosses this pipeline at several locations in the Moston/Blackley/Audenshaw areas. Realigning the road to avoid it would have required the demolition of additional residential properties. It was decided, therefore, to divert the pipeline.

The route crosses four railway lines radiating from Manchester. One of these required an overbridge in the Ashton Moss area remote from public roads. It was possible to arrange access to the site for a separate contract to be completed before the roadworks contract started.

Two major drainage outfalls were laid in advance, the most significant being 2 miles in length, discharged into the River Medlock. The topography of the area and the profile of the motorway, in deep cutting, required a tunnel over half a mile long.

In June 1993 work on the first major contract began. This involved the upgrading of the Middleton Link M66, which had been constructed in 1970/71 with dual two-lane carriageways, at the same time as the Lancashire Yorkshire Motorway M62..

The junction of the one mile length of M66 with the M62, was designed as a three level interchange. The M62 was to be at the top level, the M66 at the bottom level, and a roundabout with connecting slip roads at the mid level.

At the southern end of the Link, at the junction with Middleton Road, A576, a large roundabout was constructed. Provision was made for the M66 to be ultimately taken under it and extended to the south, as the first part of the north east quadrant of the Ring Road.

The 'upgrading' Contract included the substantial reconstruction of the Link, widening to provide dual four-lane carriageways, and a new bridge over the River Irk.

The Contract was completed in February 1996.

Meanwhile, in April 1995, work on the largest of the Contracts had begun. It involved the construction of a 4 mile length of motorway with dual three and four lane carriageways between the Denton Interchange and the River Medlock, within a contract period of three years.

Audenshaw reservoirThe most unusual feature was the construction of the 1200 yard length of earth dam across the Audenshaw reservoir to replace that breached by the motorway. The site investigation had shown that there would be an adequate quantity of excavated clay available, to form the dense clay core of the dam. This was not forthcoming and severe delays occurred until suitable material was found beneath the floor of the redundant reservoir.

Major lengths of permanent road diversion, link roads, and the construction of seven bridges was necessary, including a 400 feet long bridge over the Manchester-Leeds Canal and another of 360 feet over the Ashton Canal.

Also in 1995, a further Contract was awarded for various works on the remaining length of the project. In effect, an 'advanced contract', in that it involved the diversion and bridging of major radial road and rail routes serving Manchester. The task was further complicated by the need to maintain all traffic flows on these important commuting routes.

It included a number of structures, for example, a bridge carrying the Manchester-Oldham railway over the line of the motorway, where the deck was placed during a 72 hour possession of the track. Close by, a new entrance had to be constructed, and platforms were moved at Hollinwood Station. It was also necessary to divert a length of the Rochdale Canal.

Before awarding the final Contract, to complete the motorway, the Highways Agency, acting on behalf of the Department of Transport, gave careful consideration to the form of contract. Concern had been expressed that, in carrying out the first three contracts, final costs and completion dates were overrunning. Among the various reasons for such a situation arising, was criticism of the '5th Edition' of the ICE Conditions of Contract, which had been used. It was decided, therefore, that a 'Design and Build' form of contract should be adopted, with 'quality assessment' of tenders.

As the successful tenderer, Balfour Beatty Major Projects became responsible for the design, supervision and construction of the works, within a set of agreed constraints. The firm appointed Gifford and Partners as their Designer, and Mouchel Consulting Ltd was appointed Employer's Agent, by the Highways Agency.

The Contract, which began in May 1998, has included the construction of 5 miles of dual two, three and four lane carriageways of the motorway between the River Medlock and the Middleton Interchange, and the provision of eight bridges and 14 retaining walls.

In the crossing of a 1½ mile section of peat, at Blackley, a concrete piled raft was constructed. Piles were driven through the peat to a depth of 40 feet into the stiff clay below.

In early 1998, the whole of the Manchester Outer Ring Road, including the M63, sections of the M62, and the Middleton Link, M66, was renumbered M60. There are 27 junctions at an average spacing of 1.3 miles. A major programme of re-signing began in the Spring of that year, which included Compass Point signing for the various sectors. As well as strategic destinations, over 35 local destinations are signed at exits from the motorway.

The Denton-Middleton Section was opened to traffic in October 2000. This was 40 years after the completion in 1960 of the first Section, Stretford-Eccles By-pass.

In comparison, the first 2½ mile length of M25, the London Orbital Road, was opened in 1975 and the final section 11 years later in October 1986.

The M25 is 117 miles long compared with the 35 miles of the M60. Why should it have taken so long to complete the latter ? Has it been an example of the so-called 'North-South divide', in the allocation of financial resources ?


Key Dates

M60 Denton to Middleton (J19 to J24)
Statistics and options

Section Construction started Opened to traffic
Denton to R Medlock April 1995 October 2000
R Medlock to Middleton May 1998



Archive Information

M60 Denton to Middleton (J19 to J24)


The full archive for this scheme is stored at the Lancashire CC Record Office.  Click to see details of this record office, then delete the popup window to return.  There is not yet an Accession Number for this data.







`Summary' (4 pages)


H L Yeadon


`Technical Booklet' Detailed information provided as part of the Public Consultation on alternative routes. (55 pages incl. maps)

November 1978

Department of Transport NWRCU


`Public Consultation document'. Leaflet including large map. (8 pages)

November 1978

Department of Transport NWRCU


`Suggested Modifications between Daisy Nook and Denton'.
Description of proposals for the purpose of Public Consultation. Leaflet including large map. (8 pages)

February/ March 1980

Department of Transport NWRCU


`Modifications to route between Daisy Nook and Denton :
Public Consultation Statement of Results'. (5 pages incl. map)

August 1980

Department of Transport


`SELNEC Transportation Study :
A Broad Plan for 1984'. ( 16 page folded plan incl. maps and charts)


SELNEC Local Authorities.


` Denton to River Medlock Contract':
Public Information'. Leaflet describing the Works.
(6 pages incl. maps)

July 1996

Highways Agency


` Contract 1 Denton to River Medlock :
Progress Update'. (6 page leaflet incl. maps and photos.)

April 1998

Highways Agency


` Contract 3 Medlock to Irk:
Start of Construction'. ( 6 page leaflet incl. maps)

July 1998

Highways Agency


`Changes to 'traffic Signs on Manchester Motorways'. ( 2 page leaflet incl. map)

Spring 1998

Highways Agency


`That sinking feeling
Extreme ground conditions'. ( 2 page extract incl. photos.)

June 1998

NCE Roads Supplement


`Completing the M60 ring strategic approach and effects'. ( 2 page extract incl. maps and photos.)

September 1999

N. Hewitt
Highways & Transportation


`Project Study Manchester's M60'
(12 page extract incl. map and photos.)


New Civil Engineer
Project Special


`Completing the Circle :
The Final Link in the M60 Manchester Outer Ring Road'.
Opening Brochure. (20 pages incl. maps and photos.)

30 October 2000

Highways Agency