M6 junction 13 to junction 15 smart motorway

We're upgrading the busy 28km stretch of the M6 between junction 13 at Stafford and Junction 15 near Newcastle under Lyme and Stoke on Trent to make it a smart motorway.

Start date 2017-18
End date 2021-22
Cost £232.3 to £335.4 million

Latest updates

  • 25 November 2020

    Scheme scheduled for early completion

    There’s good news for businesses, motorists and residents as this scheme is set to finish six months ahead of schedule thanks to the introduction of our contraflow system.

    The upgrade of the 17-mile stretch of motorway was due to be completed in March 2022, but the work is now set to end in September next year.
    The contraflow system was introduced last year and has reduced the number of motorway closures needed by around half, as well as getting work done more quickly.

    We’re increasing capacity between junctions 13 (Stafford) and 15 (Stoke-on-Trent) by turning the hard shoulder into an extra traffic lane and installing up-to-date technology that will help keep traffic flowing more smoothly.

    A major motorway upgrade will usually require up to 450 full motorway closures to complete construction work. By using a contraflow, the number of full closures needed on this scheme has been reduced by around half, benefiting local people and drivers.


  • Contraflow information

    A contraflow is a temporary arrangement where traffic is transferred from its usual side to share the other half of the carriageway with traffic moving in the opposite direction. This layout will provide a wider working space in the verge, allowing our teams to safely speed up certain construction activities. A contraflow will reduce the amount of overnight closures we need by around 60%. This will benefit road users and residents living on diversion routes through Stafford.

    The contraflow allows us to carry out larger activities that are normally carried out overnight, during the day. As there is more space in the verge to work, site vehicles will be able to pass each other without having to wait until another team has finished an activity. As there will be less traffic management to install overnight, this gives us a greater working window to complete the project quickly.

    Please note that road users wishing to exit at junction 15 will need to remain in lanes 1 and 2 as they drive through the contraflow.

Project information


The M6 between junctions 13 and 15 is one of the busiest sections of road in the UK. It is used by over 127,000 vehicles per day and suffers from heavy congestion and unpredictable journey times, especially during peak periods. Congestion on this stretch of motorway also impacts on local roads. The scheme will reduce congestion, remove major bottlenecks and improve journey time reliability which will help businesses in the area to be more efficient. 

The scheme will involve: 

  • permanent conversion of the hard shoulder to create a fourth lane and changing the junctions to accommodate this 
  • new CCTV cameras and electronic information signs and signals on gantries - these will show variable mandatory speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents 
  • emergency refuge areas throughout the length of the scheme 
  • the hardening of the central reserve and installation of a reinforced barrier to improve safety 
  • nearly 2km of new noise barriers in built up areas 
  • upgrades to Dunston and Norton railway bridges 
  • widening of Creswell Viaduct 
  • demolition of the redundant Creswell Home Farm bridge 
  • minor improvements to Junction 15 

We’ve made an assessment of the environmental impact and found that there will be no long term significant effects. There will be some temporary effects during construction to changes in views, construction noise, disruption to road users and a very minimal loss of habitat. We’ll ensure these effects are minimised as much as possible. The issues considered are:

  • air quality, noise and visual impacts in relation to nearby housing
  • the Sites of Special Scientific Interest at Doxey and Tillington Marshes and Kings and Hargreave’s woods
  • protected species and habitats including bats, badgers and great crested newts
  • the setting of conservation areas and heritage assets such as Trentham Park
  • public rights of way


Traffic information

Information about scheduled roadworks and events on our motorways and major roads.

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