NEARLY £11 million is to be spent in the North-west to beat congestion and improve safety on motorways and trunk roads.

The biggest scheme in the region, announced by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, is a £3.4m widening of the M62 between Simister and Birch Services, which will add a fouth lane to the eastbound carriageway for two miles.

Plans also include improvements to two junctions on the A556, which carries Manchester-bound traffic between the M6 and M56. There will also be a remodelled junction where the M62 meets the M6.

Mr Darling announced 92 schemes across the country, which will cost a total of £145m over the next five years.

The schemes in the North-west also include signals at junction 17 of the M6 at Sandbach and improvements to the A585 from the M55 to Fleetwood.

The M62 work is designed to reduce queue related accidents and improve access from the M66 and M60.

Work is due to start in 2006.