M602. Eccles By-pass and extension to Salford

East of Warrington, the A57 is a County road and passes through the centre of the Borough of Eccles, to the boundary with the City of Salford. The 1949 Road Plan for Lancashire included a proposal for improving the road in the Borough to a dual two-lane standard, but it was recognised that this would require extensive property demolition.

In the early 1960's, it was considered that it would be preferable to by-pass the town centre as an extension of the proposed South Lancashire section of the M62, and that this should be designed as a motorway. As an alternative route for traffic using the A57, it was to be a County road for which the County Council would be responsible.

Eccles By-pass and extension to SalfordThe alignment of the proposed dual three-lane By-pass, which is 1¾ miles long, was largely determined by the locations of the junctions at each end, and the requirements for the future extension of the motorway eastwards through Salford. At the western of the By-pass, the location of the Eccles Interchange with Stretford-Eccles By-pass was fixed within small limits, since it had to be north of the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Line to avoid an Eccles Corporation housing site, which extends up to the south side of the railway.

Any northward movement of the Interchange was impracticable because of the close proximity of the Worsley Court House Junction on M62. Because of the heavy volumes of turning traffic anticipated at the Interchange, it is of free-flow type with traffic joining the main motorway after outgoing traffic has left it. Although the Interchange took up some 69 acres of land, the area required was to be kept to the minimum possible.

Towards the eastern end, the By-pass was located immediately on the north side of the Manchester-Liverpool railway which reduced severance and provided the most suitable location for a roundabout with links to the existing A57 and A576 near the Salford City Boundary. This location was confirmed by the agreement of the City Council, a highway authority in its own right, to continue the line into Salford along the north side of the railway. The roundabout was well placed for distributing traffic leaving the By-pass on to A57, and A576, in addition to providing a direct connection between the By-pass and Eccles Town Centre.

Between the two extremities, the route chosen for the By-pass took advantage of the existence of semi-derelict land between existing development, where very little modern property was affected, and of the 353 houses which had to be demolished for the By-pass, 293 were constructed before 1914. In addition, two churches, 47 shops, two public houses and a small number of other premises would have to be demolished.

At its eastern end, the By-pass would be in cutting at about the same level as the railway line, in order to interfere as little as possible with the amenity of the area. To the west of Wellington Road, however, the motorway had to be raised above ground to provide headroom over the Bridgewater Canal and side roads, and extensive embankments would be required.

There was considerable opposition when the length through Eccles was disclosed, but after the County Surveyor had explained the proposals to a special meeting of the Eccles Borough Council's General Purposes Committee in July 1962, the Borough Council approved them in October 1962.

At the time, concern was expressed about the difficulties which would be experienced by the owners of properties affected by the scheme in the period prior to its implementation, particularly in regard to houses. In December 1962, the County Highways and Bridges Committee agreed that the County Council would purchase any properties affected by the scheme, which were offered to the County Council. This enabled property owners to make arrangements for alternative accommodation, as and when suitable premises came on to the market.

Some 214 houses, nine plots of land, six lock-up shops, five shops with living accommodation, two factories nine flats and eight other properties were purchased by the County Council under this arrangement. Largely as a result of this, there were only nine objections to the Compulsory Purchase Order when it was advertised in September 1967, following on the scheme being admitted to the then Ministry of Transport's Principal Road Programme in 1966. A Public Inquiry into these objections was held in March 1968 and the Order was confirmed in October of that year.

The layout for the By-pass provided for dual 36 feet wide carriageways, two 8 feet 4 inch wide hard shoulders, two 6 feet wide verges, and a 13 feet 8 inch wide central reserve. Additionally, an 8 inch wide edge line was to be provided along each side of the dual carriageways.

The detailed design was in hand before any standards had been laid down by the Ministry of Transport for the layout of motorways in urban areas, and the central reserve and hard shoulders were to be wider than the later urban standard.

The entire route of the motorway overlies rock which is covered by glacial and post-glacial deposits, and an extensive soil survey showed that the area covered by the Interchange is sited on a deep pre-glacial valley which deepens considerably towards the west. The glacial valley is filled with a deep deposit of lacustrine clay overlaid by boulder clay, with thin deposits of sand and gravel. Overlying this was a poor clay of exceptionally low shear strength, which for the greater part of the Interchange was overlain by a band of sand and gravel, with the water table only about 18 inches below ground level.

As the Interchange is wholly on embankment, rising to a height of over 30 feet, it was necessary where the poor clay outcropped at ground level, to completely excavate this material and refill with rock excavation, a total of 50,000 cubic yards being involved.

Where there was sufficient depth of sand overlying the poor clay, it was found impossible to build a stable embankment by using filling material having low density and certain physical properties, and these requirements were met by the use of unburnt colliery shale and pulverised fuel ash, of which over 1 million cubic yards were used as filling on the Interchange alone. Where the embankments were at maximum height, they were formed entirely of pulverised fuel ash.

As the motorway extends eastwards from the Interchange the underlying rock is Manchester marl, with occasional bands of limestone, overlying which is stiff boulder clay varying from 10 to 30 feet in thickness. For the last half mile at the easterly end of the motorway, the red bunter sandstone outcrops near ground level. The length of motorway was balanced between cut and fill, the eastern end being the section in cutting and of the 450,000 cubic yards of material which was suitable for re-use, about half was the bunter sandstone.

Unsuitable excavated materials from cuttings and below embankments were deposited within the boundaries of the Interchange and elsewhere, for landscaping purposes.

The severance of side roads by the motorway in the By-pass necessitated the construction of major foul sewer diversions, the most important of which was the main foul sewer for Eccles. This crosses the line of the motorway at the point where the cutting in sandstone is at its deepest, and this diversion required the construction of 1000 feet of 54 inch diameter tunnel at depths up to 40 feet. The tunnel is lined with precast concrete segments and passes under the Manchester-Preston railway line. On a section of the tunnel adjacent to the Parish Church, dating back to the 12th Century, the use of explosives as a means of excavation in the sandstone was prohibited, and hand excavation had to be resorted to.

Eccles By-pass and extension to Salford2A total of 26 bridges were required, including seven in the Interchange with the Stretford-Eccles By-pass. Future mining subsidence was expected in this area and jacking facilities were provided in the decks.

One of the most significant structures is the Regent Railway Bridge which carries the link road from A57 Regent Street to the By-pass over the railway near Eccles Station and is a single span bridge varying in width from 87 feet to 143 feet, comprising Preflex steel beams encased in concrete with spans up to 79 feet.

In addition to bridges a large number of retaining walls has been involved, varying in length up to 2500 feet and in height up to 30 feet. These are generally of reinforced concrete cantilever construction, and some lengths are on piled foundations.

Special treatment has been given to the exposed face of the concrete wing walls to some of the overbridges and retaining walls, by facing with precast concrete blocks, whilst the faces of other bridges and retaining walls have been treated with coloured textured 'Pyrok' or 'Ceramitex'. The colours of the mosaic tiling used on the subways to the roundabouts at the eastern end of the By-pass were chosen in consultation with the Borough Surveyor of Eccles.

As an Advance Works Contract, Thirlmere Aqueduct bridge was built over the Stretford-Eccles By-pass M63 to carry the diverted water mains of Manchester Corporation in the Interchange area.

Work began on the Main Contract which included not only the construction of the By-pass but also the whole of the Eccles Interchange, with the exception of the surfacing of the carriageways which would later connect into the South Lancashire section of the M62.

Although the site of the Interchange was rural in character, the operations in its construction around the heavily trafficked motorway, M63, were governed by the over-riding necessity for the traffic flow to be unimpeded.

The necessity for road and pedestrian traffic to be maintained throughout the construction of the roadworks was another difficult problem for the Contractor. This was particularly so because of the line of the By-pass being crossed by nine north-south roads in a heavily built up area and the large number of bridges to be built.

This involved close integration of bridgeworks relative to excavation of the cuttings in the By-pass, to comply with the detailed requirements of the Contract. These specified the extent of road diversions to be completed before closing existing sections and also certain crossings over the By-pass which had to be kept open at all times.

A further requirement was for the site to be used by construction traffic wherever possible, and for the use of existing roads to be kept to a minimum. For example, the Contractor constructed a temporary retractable bridge across the Bridgewater Canal, thus enabling heavy earth-moving plant to be used for the haulage of bulk excavation.

When the By-pass was opened to traffic in November 1971, it was the first truly urban motorway to be built within the Administrative County of Lancashire, and its construction presented many problems not normally associated with rural motorways. For example, within a length of 11/2 miles of the By-pass, there were no less than 13 separate side road diversions.

Extension to Salford
It was envisaged that the construction of the Extension of Eccles By-pass through the City of Salford would be carried out shortly after the By-pass was completed in November 1971. Statutory Orders had been published in 1970 by the City Council, as the local highway authority, but little further progress was made prior to the 1 April 1974 when Local Government Reorganisation took place. The Greater Manchester Metropolitan County Council was then created and became the highway authority.

The decision was taken to proceed with the scheme and the firm of G Maunsell & Partners, Consulting Engineers, was appointed to undertake the design and supervision of construction of the dual two-lane carriageway section of motorway.

Originally, it was intended that the motorway would extend as far as the proposed Manchester and Salford Inner Ring Road. However, when this was deleted from the SELNEC Highway Plan, which had been prepared in 1962, it was decided that the M602 should be terminated at a roundabout at Cross Lane, Salford. Subsequently, Regent Road running eastwards from the roundabout was improved to a dual carriageway standard, thereby providing an improved route through to connect with the Mancunian Way.

The 2¼ mile long route runs for almost its entire length on the north side of the World's first passenger railway line, which was opened for business in 1830 between Manchester and Liverpool. Its westbound carriageway was to utilise land occupied by the former 'slow lines' of the railway. At its western end, the route was separated from the railway by the goods lines leading in-and-out of land owned by the Manchester Docks Company.

The scheme required the construction of four bridges carrying side roads over the motorway and the adjacent railway. It was necessary to demolish a footbridge over the railway, and to replace another with a new bridge spanning both the railway and the motorway.

At the Cross Lane interchange the roundabout was to be built over the railway, requiring two bridges. An existing 150 year old bridge over the railway had to be refurbished to provide, along with four subways, pedestrian routes 'through' the terminal roundabout.

The vertical alignment of the side road crossings was severely restricted by adjacent property and the need to provide the maximum possible clearance over the railway, for possible future electrification. In general, precast prestressed concrete beams were used in the superstructures.

The most significant bridge is Cross Lane West with a length of some 550 feet of which 400 feet is fully enclosed, thereby producing a tunnel effect. Consequently, British Rail insisted on lighting being provided for inspection and maintenance purposes. The lower part of each column was to be surrounded by a large diameter concrete pipe set in mass concrete to provide an impact barrier.

Extension to SalfordAs the motorway was to be approximately at the level of the railway for the greater part of its length, an insitu reinforced concrete retaining wall/sound barrier was to be built along the north side of the motorway. It would be provided with a 6 feet 6 inches high parapet to screen the properties. Over one mile long, the wall was to be sloped back at an angle of 1 in 5 to reduce the reflection of traffic noise to properties on the south side of the railway. Noise 'deadening' was to be achieved by means of a regular pattern of deep vertical grooves in the battered face. In addition, retaining walls were required to support the motorway, as it rose above rail level towards Cross Lane.

It had been stipulated that there should be a minimum clearance of 14 feet between the northernmost rail and the boundary fence of the motorway. No open excavation was to be closer to the railway track than a line drawn from the sleeper ends at 45° to the horizontal. Thus abutments and piers adjacent to the railway were supported on bored piles which also had the advantage of avoiding disturbance by upheaval or vibration.

Although designed for the construction of dual two-lane carriageways initially, provision was made for future widening to provide dual three-lane carriageways.

The motorway drainage was designed on the basis of three outfalls, using existing culverted watercourses. However, considerable difficulties were experienced with several old Victorian brick sewers, due to their positions not being accurately recorded.

Although the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County Council was the client, the project was to be financed by a 100% grant from the Department of Transport as a potential Trunk Road.

Before construction of the Main Works, and in order to minimise traffic disruption on local roads, it was decided to build bridges to carry Stott Lane, Weaste Road, Derby Road and Langworthy Road over the line of the motorway. The existing railway bridges on these roads were reconstructed at the same time. In addition, it was decided to construct a new drainage outfall to the Manchester Ship Canal in order to upgrade the surface water outlet from the western section of the motorway. The design of the Canal outlet had to be such as to limit the velocity of the discharge to a level that would not affect the steerage of passing ships. Designs were prepared by 'Maunsell' and Advance Works Contracts were awarded, on which work began in 1980, the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the passenger railway line.

Tenders for the Main Contract were invited with alternatives of flexible and rigid carriageway construction. In the event, the accepted tender provided for flexible construction, and work began in January 1981.

Property demolition had already been carried out under separate contracts let by Salford City Council. However, it was found that most properties had cellars in which demolition material, eg brick, timber, and plaster, had been dumped. It was, however, necessary to remove it, as an acceptable standard of compaction could not be achieved.

There was more 'unsuitable' excavation than expected, because of extensive soft areas above and below formation, particularly under the westbound carriageway, which was to be built over the former 'slow lines' of the railway. When in use, the 'slow lines' had been provided with 'railway' drainage, but when British Rail decided to remove the two tracks, maintenance of the drainage ceased. The original site investigation had been undertaken in 1970, not long after British Rail had discontinued use of its 'slow lines', and in the intervening eleven years, the drainage had 'clogged' and the clay strata below the original railway trackbed became saturated. The soft areas above and below formation of the eastbound carriageway probably occurred as a result of earlier property demolition which left the ground exposed for several years, resulting in water table changes.

The Contractor programmed to carry out earthworks to formation level for the western third of the Contract, in the first season. A major delaying factor arose due to difficulties met, at the outset, when attempting to locate the existing main sewers crossing the site, to the east of Gilda Brook. A similar but less delaying problem occurred in the eastern third of the Works where the Pendleton Interceptor sewer had to be relocated before major earthworks could begin in that section.

To the east of Stott Lane, a watercourse had been culverted, both to the north and the south of the line of the motorway. It was necessary to establish its condition downstream, as far as the outfall into the Ship Canal. It was found that at one point a partial roof collapse of the brick culvert had occurred, which restricted flow. Remedial action had to be taken before the culverted sections were required to provide the surface water outlet from the western half of the motorway.

In view of the proximity of the motorway to the railway, and the limited verge width, a continuous tensioned corrugated beam safety barrier was provided, where the distance between the back of the hard shoulder and the nearest rail is less than 30 feet. Should the motorway be widened in order to provide the third lanes to the carriageways it would be replaced by a concrete barrier.

Clearly the use of an existing 'corridor' for the M602, by building alongside the railway, had considerable merit, in eliminating the severance of the community, which would have otherwise occurred. However, it had the effect of creating many difficult engineering problems, in such an intensively developed urban area.

The motorway was completed and opened to traffic in December 1982. From Cross Lane roundabout, Regent Road, A57, was upgraded to a dual carriageway standard to connect with Mancunian Way, and Trafford Road, A5603, was widened through to White City.

The effect was a general renewal and upgrading of this part of Salford with the Council selling most of its blocks of flats to housing developers who refurbished them for private sale. The redevelopment of the former Manchester Docks into Salford Quays, and the success of the Trafford Park Development Corporation in revitalising the Trafford Park Industrial Estate; led to an influx of 'new money', and work opportunities.

Clearly the use of an existing 'corridor' for the M602, by building alongside the railway, had considerable merit, in eliminating the severance of the community, which would have otherwise occurred. However, it had the effect of creating many difficult engineering problems, in such an intensively developed urban area.


Key Dates


M602. Eccles By-pass and extension to Salford
Statistics and options.

Section Construction started Opened to traffic
Eccles By-pass ?? November 1971
Extension to Salford January 1981 December 1982



Archive Information

M602. Eccles By-pass and extension to Salford


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 page to return.  The Accession Number for this data is 9354. 







'Opening Brochure Eccles By Pass M602'

October 1971

County Surveyor's Department
Lancashire County Council


'M602 Eccles By Pass Motorway including the Eccles Interchange'.
Dealing with the Lancashire section of the M602 from and including the Interchange with the M62 and M60 to the Salford City boundary.
A paper describing the conception and development of the scheme, the construction and its aftermath.
Largely research material with a little personal recollection.


W M Johnson


'Eccles By Pass and Eccles Interchange'
Notes produced for use of site staff for visits to site.

Late 1971

County Surveyor's Department
Lancashire County Council


'M602 Extension: Eccles to Salford'
A paper with appendices dealing with the extension of the Eccles By Pass into Salford.


Roger Knapman