The M61 connects Manchester to Preston and points north by taking a direct line from the M60 Manchester Outer Ring Road to the M6. Without it, the junction between the M6 and M62 would be very busy and the A6 at Chorley would be something of a headache.
Its southern terminus and starting point, the Worsley Braided Interchange on the M60, is a contender for the most fabulously over-designed junction in the country. It occupies the first three junction numbers on the M61 and is considered the widest section of road in the UK, with seventeen lanes side-by-side across several carriageways. It is effectively two motorways running together, with sliproads linking them, and connecting routes to parallel and adjacent roads. Because skew bridges were difficult and expensive to build when it was created, some of the sliproads cross each other at very oblique angles using galleries — effectively long lengths of artificial tunnel.
After leaving the Worsley Braided Interchange, the M61 seems to have used up all its excitement quota and becomes quite remarkably dull. The landscape is hilly and quite industrial, and the road itself always seems to look very old and worn out. At Preston, the northern terminus on the M6 is very simple, which can be something of a disappointment after the excitement of Worsley.
The missing junction 7 is something of a mystery. Considering that an extended M58 was meant to terminate on the M61, and an underpass even exists to enable that to happen, the missing junction has nothing to do with that plan and is much too far north to be related to the long-dead M58 proposals. Instead, it was probably intended for an improved access to Chorley and the new town of Leyland.
|Connects to||M6, M60, M65|
Views of the M61 from on and off the road. If you have a photo to contribute, contact me.
An example of the various overpasses at Worsley Braided Interchange (here, the sliproad south towards the A580) that cross the motorway at oblique angles. Today we would simply build a long bridge with offset piers to fit the carriageway below, but in the late 60s the answer was a lengthy fake tunnel (or gallery). Most of the space on top of this structure is empty.
Photo by Steven Jukes
When the various parts of the M61 were built, listed in chronological order.
|Nov||1969||J4-M6||Horwich → Preston|
|Dec||1970||J0-4||Worsley → Horwich|
All the junctions and destinations along the route.
With thanks to Steven Jukes and Chris McKenna for information in this section.