- M54 motorway
UK motorway routebox
direction= East - West
Wolverhampton Telford Shrewsbury
The M54 is a 23 mile (37 km) east-west
motorwayin the English counties of Shropshireand Staffordshire. It is also referred to as the Telford Motorway, after the road's primary westbound destination, the new townof Telford.cite web|url=http://www.iht.org/motorway/m54telford.htm|title=M54, The Telford Motorway|work=The Motorway Archive|accessdate=2008-04-18] The motorway cost £65 million to construct, and is two-lane dual carriagewayfor the majority of its length, with sections of three-lane.cite web|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2006/01/11/localtv_m54_facts_feature.shtml|title=M54 the Facts|work=BBC Shropshire|accessdate=2008-04-18]
The M54 spur connects the
M6 motorwaynear Essington, Staffordshire with the A5 trunk road at Wellington, Shropshire.cite web|url=http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m54/|title=M54|work=CBRD - Motorway Database|accessdate=2008-04-18] The motorway forms part of the strategic route to North Wales, roughly following the path of the Roman Watling Streetand the A5 north-westwards, towards the port of Holyhead. [cite web|url=http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1989/Uksi_19892317_en_1.htm|work=BBC Shropshire|title=The (A5) London-Holyhead Trunk Road and Slip Roads|work=opsi.gov.uk|accessdate=2008-04-18] It is the only motorway in Shropshire, and forms a vital part of the county's road network.cite web|url=http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/roots/packages/tra/tra_y07.htm|title=Why was the M54 necessary?|work=Shropshire County Council|accessdate=2008-04-18]
The idea of the M54 was originally presented due to the high volumes of traffic on two smaller, parallel routes; the A5, the Roman
Watling Street, which connected Rochester, Kentwith Wroxeter, Shropshire, and the Londonto Holyheadroad (now parts of A5, A45, A41 and A464), which was largely constructed by civil engineer Thomas Telfordin the early 19th century. The initial plan for a motorway following the M54's present route was therefore designed to alleviate the roads which handled the commercial traffic to the port of Holyhead, destined for Ireland. With the proposal for a new townin the Telford area, then named "Dawley New Town", the M54 was becoming more likely to be built; the government also wanted to increase transport provision to the rest of Shropshire, and provide an overspill housing area for the West Midlands conurbation.In 1967 the Ministry of Transportinvited construction company "Freeman Fox, Wilbur Smith Associates (FFWSA)" to investigate and report on the impact of the New Town proposals on traffic demand between the proposed New Town site and Wolverhampton, and the best highway solution to meet this demand. The predicted demand was that of 75,000 vehicles per day by 1990 and a need for a dual 3-lane motorway. Two corridors were identified for a possible new motorway route, and a third option to possibly upgrade existing roads. The route could have followed the A5 Corridor to the M6 South of Gailey, at Junction 12, or a new corridor could have been established to the M6, north-east of Featherstone, at Junction 11. Additionally, it was proposed that the existing A5 could be upgraded to full dual carriageway grade separatedstandards together with improvements to the A41 and A464 trunk routes.
The Wellington bypass
The first section of the M54 was opened in 1975, then named the A5 Wellington bypass, but later renumbered the M54 once Telford New Town was established in 1969. The bypass removed traffic from the heavily congested route through the urbanised areas of
Oakengatesand Wellington, and removed one of the country's most notorious bottlenecks at the Bucks Head crossroads, in Wellington; delays of up to six hours could be experienced in the summer months.
The Wellington bypass was constructed by contractor "M. J. Gleeson Ltd", from 1973 to 1975. Many problems followed in the two years after completion; the rigid concrete carriageway broke up, due to the road being built on a poor
subbasewith rigid concrete along a historically heavily mined route. The aesthetic and constructional design of the bridges was also heavily criticised. Over the next 15 years, almost all of the original carriageway had to be replaced with asphalt.
The convert|30|km|mi section between the junction with the M6, and Telford, excluding the Wellington bypass, was divided into four contracts each awarded to different companies; all sections remained under the design of "Sir
Owen Williamsand Partners".
*Contract 1 (
Shifnal) was given to "A Monk & Co.", who utilised a slip-form paverto construct the concrete section, which led to it becoming a standard in future motorway construction.
*Contract 2 (Donnington) was awarded to "R M Douglas Construction Ltd." The two year contract was completed in only 18 months, due to the dry weather which allowed the earthworks to be completed ahead of schedule.
*Contract 3 (
Codsall) was taken by " Alfred McAlpine& Son (Southern) Ltd.", and was constructed almost identically to contract 1.
*Contract 4 (
Essington) was the largest contract, and was awarded to Tarmac Construction (present day Carillion plc). This section took the longest to complete, and faced opposition from Staffordshire County Council who wanted disruption at the junction with the M6 to remain minimal.
The Forge junction at
Telford Town Centrewas awarded relatively late, to the company "Norwest Holst". The junction precipitated the construction of Telford Shopping Centre, and the central commercial area, as the exchange was upgraded to allow traffic from the motorway to join and exit in both directions. The Forge to Cluddley section, from Junction 5 to Junction 7, opened to traffic in December 1975. The Hilton Park to Forge section, from the M6 to Junction 5, opened in November 1983. [cite web|url=http://www.iht.org/motorway/m54telfstat.htm|title=M54, the Telford Motorway - Statistics|work=The Motorway Archive|accessdate=2008-04-18] The motorway cost 65 million pounds to build, which when adjusted for inflation would come to approximately 150 million 2006 GBP. [cite web|url=http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/result.php?use%5B%5D=CPI&use%5B%5D=DEFIND&use%5B%5D=WAGE&use%5B%5D=GDPCP&use%5B%5D=GDPC&year_late=1983&typeamount=65%2C000%2C000&amount=65%2C000%2C000&year_source=1983&year_result=2006# |title=Relative Value of UK Pounds|work=Measuring Worth|accessdate=2008-04-18]
::"See also:" Economy of TelfordTo help alleviate opposition to the intrusive motorway design, the convert|60|ft|m wide carriageway was built to pass below the natural landscape, where possible. Man-made hills were constructed which, along with the planting of 250,000 new trees, helped to camouflage the motorway from view, and cut down on the noise level. This aesthetic improvement project took two and a half years to complete and employed over 100 men.
The construction of the motorway has been attributed to stronger economic growth and lower unemployment in the Telford area; unemployment in the 1980s was at over 20%, by 2004 this figure had fallen to 3.3%. The motorway allowed Telford to develop significant distribution centres by providing the town with access to the wider motorway network, and industrial estates such as "Hortonwood" and "Stafford Park" have contributed to the towns relatively low unemployment level. [cite web|url=http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=18062|title=History of Telford|work=British History Online|accessdate=2008-03-21]
Some of the highest pollution levels in the borough of Telford and Wrekin are along the M54, particularly between junctions 5 and 7, which run through Telford's urban area. [cite web|url=http://www.telford.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/7F6F718F-8FDC-4F00-B0AF-0F69D767EECA/0/APR2002AnnexALocalAirQuality.pdf|title=Local Air Quality|work=Telford & Wrekin borough council|accessdate=2008-06-01]
The M54 becomes particularly busy in mid-August;
V Festivalat Weston-under-Lizardutilizes the road for all traffic from the south (via the M6) [cite web|url=http://www.vfestival.com/parks/page/by-car|title=V Festival - By Car|work=V Festival website|accessdate=2008-08-16] , and Shrewsbury Flower Showserves all traffic to Shrewsbury from the east. [cite web|url=http://www.shrewsburyflowershow.org.uk/uk/index.php?page=menu&event=contact|title=Shrewsbury Flower Show - Contact Us|work=Shrewsbury Flower Show website|accessdate=2008-08-16]
The road runs west from Junction 10A of the M6 motorway near
Essington, Staffordshire ( [http://tools.wikimedia.de/~magnus/geo/geohack.php?params=52.630243381403446_N_-2.0495007240274856_E_region:GB_scale:25000 Map] ). It passes south of Featherstone near Junction 1 and then north of Bushburybefore reaching Junction 2. Just before Junction 3 with Albrighton the road enters Shropshire. It then passes to the north of Shifnal. Between Junction 4 and Junction 5, the road passes across the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury railway line, and through the centre of Telford. Between Junctions 6 and 7, the road runs around the south of Wellington before ending on the A5 ( [http://tools.wikimedia.de/~magnus/geo/geohack.php?params=52.691035862433125_N_-2.5452660899441573_E_region:GB_scale:25000 Map] ), which continues on to Shrewsburyas dual carriageway.
Telford Motorway Service Station was opened in 2004 off Junction 4, and is operated by
Welcome Break. [cite web|url=http://www.welcomebreak.co.uk/FindMotorwayService/Telford.htm|title=Welcome Break Telford|work=Welcome Break|accessdate=2008-04-19] It is the only service station on the motorway and, if travelling east, the last before Corley on the M6 or Frankley on the M5. [cite web|url=http://motorwayservicesonline.co.uk/services/telford/|title=Telford Services|work=Motorway Services Online|accessdate=2008-04-18]
There are proposals to add a link road to the
M6 Toll[cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/11814.aspx Highways Agency Project Page|title=M54 to M6 / M6 (Toll) Link Road|work=Highways Agency|accessdate=2008-04-18] which meets the M6 at Junction 11a, whereas the M54 meets the M6 at Junction 10a, missing the toll by one junction. Eastbound traffic approaching the M6 from the motorway can only travel southbound towards Birmingham, and not northbound towards Stafford; and vice versa, traffic coming from the north cannot join the M54 directly from the M6, as J10a has "limited access". Therefore, traffic destined for the M6 Toll has to travel on local A roads to make the journey. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/shropshire/5170954.stm|title=Motorway link plan put on display|work=BBC Shropshire|accessdate=2008-04-18] Traffic heading south east along the M54 is advised to use the M6 Toll at peak times and Sunday evenings and is directed along the A449. Drivers can also choose to take a shorter route from Junction 1 onto the A460 northbound, crossing the M6 at J11, then turning left onto the M6 Toll, although this route is usually congested. [cite web|url=http://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/Default.aspx?page=13781|title=M54-M6 Link Road and M6 Widening|work=South Staffordshire Council|accessdate=2008-04-18] In 2006, "Macquarie Infrastructure Group" (who own the M6 Toll and Midland Expressway, ltd.) announced a refinancing package for the M6 Toll, which includes £112m of investment in a link to the M54 in order to boost traffic levels. [cite web|url=http://www.cbrd.co.uk/futures/new/m54.shtml|title=Futures - M54|work=CBRD - Motorway Database|accessdate=2008-04-18]
Junctions and destinations
List of motorways in the United Kingdom
* [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m54/ CBRD Motorway Database - M54]
* [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m54telford.htm The Motorway Archive - M54]
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