North West smart motorways
As our region continues to see rapid growth, we're committed to ensuring our roads have the capacity to support it.
Now the M6 junction 16 to 19 (Crewe to Knutsford), Manchester smart motorway (M60 junction 8 to M62 junction 20), and the M62 junction 10 to 12 are fully operational, we're progressing with further smart motorway schemes.
The first one – the M56 between junctions 6 and 8 is under way
These will be followed by M62 junction 20 to 25, and M6 junction 21a to 26. They are designed to keep drivers safe, reduce congestion and improve journey reliability. We had originally scheduled these projects to run concurrently.
In February 2019 – based on feedback from our customers and stakeholders of their experiences on our network – we announced changes to our smart motorway programme across the north-west to reduce the impact of concurrent roadworks on our customers.
These changes are:
|Scheme||Original start date||New start date|
|M62 junctions 10-12 (Croft to Eccles)||Scheme is now complete||No change|
|M56 junctions 6-8 (Manchester Airport to A556 Bowdon)||Spring 2019||Autumn 2022|
|M6 junctions 21a-26 (Croft to Orrell)||Spring 2019||Spring 2023|
|M62 junctions 20-25 (Rochdale to Brighouse)||Autumn 2019||No change|
You can learn more about each individual scheme by clicking the links further down this page.
View our How to drive on motorways guide.
This four-mile stretch of road, which is linked to several arterial trunk roads, is a vital part of the network for commuters travelling into Manchester city centre. This section of the M56 carries in excess of 100,000 vehicles per day.
This scheme is part of our programme to add capacity to the existing strategic road network in order to support economic growth and maintain mobility.
The M6 forms part of the London to north-west and Scotland strategic corridor, and the wider trans-European route, E05. The M6 between junctions 21a and 26 is a key strategic route carrying around 120,000 vehicles daily between Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
Congestion and unreliable journey times are currently experienced at busy periods and traffic is predicted to grow.
The M6 junction 21a to 26 smart motorway scheme will relieve congestion and smooth the flow of traffic, improving safety and journey times.
The design features of the scheme include:
- variable mandatory speed limits
- driver information, including lane availability, provided through a mixture of gantries and cantilever signs
- queue detection and automatic signalling system, which provides queue protection and congestion management
- comprehensive low light pan-tilt-zoom CCTV coverage
- refuge areas where drivers can stop in an emergency
The M62 is the only east-west motorway spanning the north of England. Running between Merseyside and Yorkshire through Cheshire and Lancashire, it serves as both a regional route for longer distance trips and as an important inter-urban route between the Manchester and Leeds city regions.
The government’s Northern Powerhouse strategy identified a need for improved east-west major road links to ensure better and more reliable journey times between the major cities within the north.