The M6 toll road has proved a costly flop
The UK's very first pay-as-you-go motorway is accused of being underused and overpriced as it sees a 40% drop in traffic over the past seven years.
Things have become so bad that Geoff Inskip, chief executive of Centro, the West Midlands transport authority, called on the Government to take the M6 toll road out of private hands to ease congestion around Britain's second largest city.
The £900 million project that was opened in 2003 was designed to relieve congestion around Birmingham with around 74,000 vehicles predicted to use the stretch of motorway each year.
Currently, around half the predicted number of users pass through the barriers each day and due to the high cost of the toll and lack of benefit when the regular M6 motorway is traffic-free, many drivers choose to take the original motorway.
Congestion around Birmingham is now so bad at certain times that the Highway's Agency has begun work converting the hard should of the original M6 motorway to create an extra lane in order to deal with the additional traffic.
Mr Inskip told The Independent that nine out of 10 trucks use the original motorway, with congestion costing the West Midlands economy £2 billion a year: "We believe this is due to the price hauliers and motorists are being asked to pay. It's important we keep the region moving and one way of doing that is to get HGVs, which are not stopping in Birmingham, off the M6 and onto the toll road," he said.
In July, Midland Expressway is making the toll road free to use for all heavy goods vehicles in an effort to attract more hauliers to use it.
The road is due to remain in private hands until 2054 and the Department for Transport said the Government had no plans to nationalise the road before this.