Motorists hoping for a stress-free start to 2017 may be disappointed by roadworks planned for this year.

Three major roadwork projects blight the city centre towards the start of the year, one of them leading to a permanent change in traffic around Princess Street in the City centre.

The other two highway dig-ups will primarily affect people commuting from South Manchester (but Duffy Motors’ City Centre garage should be unaffected).

There is something to look forward to in 2017 for motorists though, because smart motorway roadworks should start to disappear by the end of the year. Scroll down for an update on the smart motorway situation.

Tram changes will affect City Centre traffic PERMANENTLY

The Metrolink’s fancy new city crossing (which is also due to open in early 2017, but I couldn’t pin down an exact date) will permanently redirect a good portion of traffic between St Peter’s Square and Exchange Square, affecting Princess Street, Cross Street and King Street.

From 8 January, permanent traffic restrictions will be in place around the area including on Princess Street (between Portland Street and John Dalton Street), King Street (between Cheapside and Cross Street) and Cross Street (between King Street and Princess Street).

If you work near, or regularly drive through this area, you are advised to find a new route now. Motorists expect the area to be gridlocked next week.

Courtesy of TFGM

Map courtesy of TfGM

Bus scheme closes stretch of Oxford Road

If you commute by car or bus up Oxford Road, then you will already have encountered some extra congestion since Wednesday (4 January) when roadworks forced cars and buses to divert away from the main city artery.

The closure is to allow resurfacing works to take place before a ‘bus priority scheme’ is enacted.

Due to finish on Sunday (8 January), the works have closed Oxford Road between Booth Street and Charles Street as part of the Corridor scheme to create to create ‘boulevard-style roads and Dutch-style cycle lanes’.

The bus priority scheme, and the Second City Crossing (Metrolink), are more examples of how the city is being made more public transport friendly. But much of this work will come to alienate car drivers.

Long-term road closure next to former BBC site

From 9 January to 12 February the A34 Brook Street will shut between Upper Brook Street and Princess Street to allow for utility works on the residential development being built on the former BBC site.

Carried out over quite a long period, thee works will cause considerable congestion around Oxford Road, Upper Brook Street and on surrounding roads.

Be warned though, because Oxford Road’s new restricted layout means that you will not be able to use this as an alternative route.

Manchester’s smart motorways, close to completion?

For motorists who commute via sections of the M60 and M62 while they have been blighted by enforced 50mph speed limits during smart motorway upgrades, the end is nearly in sight.

But more delays could be on the way soon.

A huge stretch of motorway, starting at junction 8 on the M60 and finishing on Junction 20 of the M62, is due to be fully upgraded by September of 2017. In theory, this high-tech motorway should improve traffic flow on a very busy commuter corridor.

However, regular commuters will only have a brief period of peace to enjoy it before more 50mph speed limits come into effect. This new upgrade, due to start in March 2020 will modernise the remaining sections of the M62, linking Greater Manchester’s M60/M62 upgrade to the already completed Brighouse to Leeds smart stretch.

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How to drive on a smart motorway

Smart motorways use large, technologically advanced boards to manage the flow of traffic. Controllers monitor traffic closely and assess which lanes to open and which to close (often including a 4th lane usually taken up by the hard shoulder). They can also control the speed limit to help keep traffic flowing freely.

Driving on smart motorways is relatively straightforward but it can be unnerving if you’ve never come across one before.

If a broken white line appears on the board above your lane, that means that you can drive in that lane. If there is a solid white line over the hard shoulder that means you shouldn’t drive in it.

NEVER drive in a lane with a red ‘X’ over the top of it. This will usually indicate that there’s a problem in that lane up ahead. You should get out of that lane as soon as possible to prevent further problems building up.

If you continue to drive in ‘red X’ lanes without exiting quickly then you can be fined.