Where is it?
M60 junction 18, the notional north-east corner of a circular road, where the M62 merges in for a multiplex around the northern section, and the M66 terminates.
What's wrong with it?
This is essentially the dictionary definition of the word "shambles". Quite aside from the fact that it's another of those evil concoctions, the three-level stacked roundabout, which is laughably under-capacity for such an interchange despite having huge renovations when the M60 was created, its main fault is that the through route doesn't go through it.
Make the simple, forgivable assumption that to stay on the M60 you continue straight on, and you will end up on the M62 or M66, depending on which direction you came from. There's no way to ignore it: to stay on the M60 you either have a tight left-turn sliproad or (worse) the problem of negotiating a six-lane roundabout with traffic lights. On a motorway. Wow.
Why is it wrong?
There's a simple reason for this one. When the junction was built, it was the crossing point of two motorways, the M62 and M66. Considering the M66 finished about two miles south of here, and didn't go that much further to the north, this was just fine and dandy.
When the M60 was created as a Manchester ring road, it was mostly done out of bits and pieces of existing motorway around Manchester — it used the south end of the M66 and the M62 around the north of the city, and so it had to pass through this junction. It's been modified to have six lanes around the roundabout and signs and traffic lights everywhere, but the fact remains that it's still a roundabout!
What would be better?
How about making the M60 free-flowing? It doesn't have to be the priority route through the junction (the M62 takes most of the traffic) — just something to prevent a continuously numbered motorway from passing through three sets of traffic lights. How about tunnelling under as at M1/M62? Still bad, but better than this.
Right to reply
This is truly a shocking roundabout - I have used it constantly since before the M60 was opened, and the number of times I've had a near-miss can be counted as a near-daily experience.
Since the M60 has been open, the roundabout has been re-organised so that traffic moves over 2 lanes for every exit - this is all fine and dandy for those used to the junction (or used to paying attention to roadmarkings) but to Joe Public who just assumes you move over once...I actually approach this roundabout watching every other car now, knowing at least twice a week someone will attempt to insert themselves into the same bit of road as me. Bad design.
I use this junction daily. It's not just the junction design that's bad, it's the timing of the traffic lights too. It's been known (and I've sat in it) on a bad day that the queue of traffic wanting to leave the northern arm of the M60 and head onto the eastern M60 heads all the way down to before junction 17, and can cause gridlock back to the M61!
Nicholas, your frustration is shared - I've experienced this junction both from working in Bury (one exit back) and Wigan (from the M61, three exits back), and you're completely right - the amount of time I've hit traffic in the rush hour at the bottom end of the M61 (some two miles or so back), caused purely by people queuing on Simister Island, are uncountable.
I said it before and I'll say it again, bad design!
This is a tricky junction but... did you know if you approach in the correct lane, if you then follow the same colour of tarmac you will get to your correct exit! There's pink, green, black and yellow tarmac to follow!
I live two minutes from here and use this daily. I actually find it quite amusing how people cannot follow the corkscrew of lines on the roundabout: just stick in the same lane, marked with paint and coloured tarmac, and you won't go wrong. Where this junction falls down is that if you are on the M60 intending to stay on the M60 you must all squash over into one lane, which is madness for a 4 lane motorway at both sides.
What people dont realise is that they can actually use lane two as well, all the way up to the junction; if coming from the west to south (clockwise), you can stay in lane two until the last mile, then move over into the slip road for the M60, as a healthy amount of traffic heads north up the M66 with the lane 1 sliproad. If coming from south to west then you can also stay in lane two, bypass the traffic all the way to the lights, then bear left off the roundabout. Why people wish to sit in all that gridlock when they could drive straight through I don't know.
It's actually possibly one of the daftest excuses for a junction in the country, but surprisingly, when people drive properly around it you can be through the chaos in quite a quick time.
The HA really need to widen the approach slip roads to 3 lanes though as traffic backing up for the signals blocks the left turn filters.
I use this junction every day, M60 clockwise exiting for the M66 north. Around 7.30am it is a soul destroying experience and a shining example of idiotic road planning.
The first two of the four lanes on the M60 are backed up past the previous junction (M60 J17). Only the first lane is supposed to be the exit lane, but drivers block the second lane too, reducing the M60 to two lanes.
So you have to fight your way through this mess, the vast majority of which is heading through the lights onto the M60, to reach the exit slip road for the M66 north.
The M60 should be continuous, I am amazed that they thought a roundabout and set of lights could be used to join two of the busiest motorways in the country and throw in a third motorway into the mix too.
At that time, the M66 south is no better for the people attempting to go around the roundabout to join the M60 anti-clockwise.
Perhaps a cheapish way to improve this junction would be to add slip roads from the inside of the roundabout onto the motorways, to accomodate right-turn movements. This would remove the points of conflict, since all drivers will move outside-to-inside for right turns, similar to a whirlpool-style junction.
Add in some barriers to force drivers to take the correct lanes, and hey presto! it's free-flowing. The corners would be a little tight, but surely it has to be an improvement over the current situation.
How about building a loop westbound from the M62 side round to the M66 southbound. With slips a bit like those on the M42 north to M6 east to stop weaving, this would solve most of the problems.