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First toll motorway opens

10th December 2003 - The Mirror

By Rod Chaytor On The M6 Toll Road

I took a spin on the new M6 toll road yesterday and rediscovered the joys of motorway driving.

In less than 20 minutes I whistled along the 23-mile section currently open between Dunton Island, just off the M42 at the southern end of the new 900million motorway, and Cannock in the north. Meanwhile, on the old M6 around Birmingham, traffic was in first and second gear, grinding past Spaghetti Junction, the Ray Hall interchange, the M6/M5 junction and all the other logjam points I have grown to loathe over the past 30 years.

The last time I encountered such an open road was on a French autoroute which was, of course, a toll road. Now, for around the price of a pint, the same driving experience is available in Britain.

Drivers who have travelled abroad on European pay-as-you-go motorways will find it all very familiar.

At the start or the end of your journey you approach a toll plaza and pause for just a few seconds at a manned or unmanned booth. You hand cash or a credit/debit card to an attendant or toss a couple of quid into a bucket, just as you would at the Dartford Tunnel or the Humber Bridge. Or you can simply shove your credit/debit card into an automatic machine. The barrier lifts and within seconds you are on your way.

...

The road, which includes 10 underpasses for badgers and 300 bat boxes, was officially opened by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling at the 10-lane toll entrance at Weeford Park, near Lichfield, Staffs.

...

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