Weekend closure on the M56 ahead of important upgrade


18 Aug 2022

Weekend closure on the M56 ahead of important upgrade

Our project to upgrade around 4 miles of the M56 near Manchester Airport is nearly complete.

We're upgrading the M56 between junction 6 at Hale and junction 8 at Bowdon, adding an extra lane in each carriageway and technology to help smooth drivers’ journeys through a section of the network that carries up to 100,000 vehicles a day.

Finishing this work and removing traffic management means the motorway will need to be totally closed for a whole weekend in September – from 9pm on Friday 9 September to 6am on Monday 12 September.

The eastbound M56 will be closed from junction 9 at Lymm interchange with the M6 to junction 5 for Manchester Airport; the westbound carriageway will be closed from junction 5 to junction 8 at Bowdon. Clearly-signed diversions will be in place.

We're working closely with Manchester Airport Group to ensure access to the airport will be maintained - via the westbound M56 at junction 5 - throughout next month’s weekend closure.

Holidaymakers with overnight flights and heading to the airport from places like the West Midlands, north Cheshire and North Wales will be able to use a motorway diversion from junction 9 of the M56 at Lymm or a local diversion from junction 7 at Altrincham.

During the weekend closure, access to Manchester Airport at junction 5 will be maintained via the westbound M56. A westbound diversion will operate using the M60, M62 and M6. Drivers from the Midlands and North Wales planning to use the eastbound M56 to head to the airport or Manchester city centre will need to use the M6, M62 and M60 diversion instead.

Drivers are also being advised the westbound carriageway will be closed at times - between junction 5 and junction 7 - during the preceding weekend from 9pm on Friday 2 September to 6am on Sunday 4 September and again from 9pm on Sunday 4 September to 6am on Monday 5 September.

Access to the airport at junction 5 will be open at all times but a good motorway diversion away from the westbound M56 will be in place for other drivers.

Work during the closures includes adding a new central reservation concrete safety barrier, low noise surfacing, four emergency areas – providing a place to stop in the event of break downs or other emergencies – and technology to alert the control centre to breakdowns and incidents will also be installed.

The project is likely to be fully-completed before the end of the year – allowing the newly-upgraded stretch of motorway to operate beyond 60mph to the maximum 70mph after systems testing.

The roll-out of new all lane running (ALR) smart motorways was paused by the government in January to allow five years’ worth of safety and economic data to be collected.

However, work on stretches already under construction – such as the M56 – is continuing because these stretches were all more than half completed and leaving traffic management in place throughout the five-year pause would significantly disrupt drivers.

More information about the motorway upgrade is available on the M56 project webpage.