TWO major new link roads costing up to £5 billion could be built to benefit Bolton motorists.

A new ‘Northern Corridor’ is being proposed to help ease traffic problems. New roads could link Westhoughton with Wigan and there would a key route directly from Bolton to Bury.

The report from the Department of Transport aims to find ways to relieve congestion on the M60 motorway, mainly between junctions 8 at Stretford and 18 at Simister near Bury.

It proposes a new link from the M6 junction at Orrell to the M61 to junction 5 at the Chequerbent roundabout in Westhoughton.

Traffic on the corridor would then travel south on the M61 to junction 2 where the A666 joins the East Lancs Road, before joining a new direct route to the M62, connecting at Simister Island junction 18, of the M60.

There are also two other potential multi-billion pound investment packages suggested.

One of these involves creating a new orbital ring road outside of the existing M60 motorway, linking the M62 at junction 12, with drivers travelling along the M61 and on to the M62 at junction 18.

The third and final ‘in-corridor package’ could involve a programme of improvements to ‘significantly’ enhance the capacity, performance and resilience of the M60 in an area including Bolton, Bury, Salford and Rochdale.

The study proposes that the Northern Corridor package could cost around £5.5 billion, with the other In Corridor Package listed at more than £6 billion and the Orbital or ‘ring road’ package predicted to cost as much as £7.3 billion.

The DfT report is named the Manchester North-West Quadrant Study.

The DfT says all of the proposals are ‘speculative’ and there are no firm details about what type of roads could be built, motorways, A-roads or dual carriageways.

A spokesman for the DfT said: “We don’t have any firm details at this point on dates and costs — the report is just a guide at this point. The costs are speculative and are very unlikely to be that high in reality.”

The study has been welcomed by Bolton West MP Chris Green. He said: “Many years ago there was a plan to create a new A5225 bypass, but it was shelved in the 1990s. While no details have been finalised, it seems as though the proposed link road would be very close to that original plan.

“This work has been needed for many years and this is a major step in the right direction for local people who have really suffered with congestion for a long time.”

He added: “I am also pleased to see the proposals directly linking Bolton and Bury.

“One of the problems we have in Greater Manchester is that all roads lead to the centre of Manchester and the outer ring has not been looked at for some time — this is the kind of infrastructure that the outlying boroughs really need.”

But Bolton Council’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr David Chadwick called the proposals ‘pie in the sky.’

He said: “I would very much like to see the colour of the Government’s money first on something like this.

“These are all part of a range of investments and they are in no way guaranteed, so I am reserving judgement.

“We don’t know what kind of financial situation the country will be in in the future, particularly post-Brexit — so it is basically pie in the sky, there is no commitment.”

He added: “I would also be worry about the potential for developers wanting to build on land alongside any new link roads, because they would feel it would be much more sustainable.”