M56 junction 6 to 8 smart motorway

Improving the M56 motorway between junction 6 (Manchester Airport) and junction 8 (Bowdon) by making it a smart motorway.

Start date 2019-20
End date 2021-22
Cost TBC

Latest updates

  • 12 June 2020

    Ecological surveys

    We’re currently carrying out further ecological surveys to further inform our construction plans for the project. We will need to close lane 1 during the daytime to carry out this work safely. We do not expect this lane closure to cause delays due to the current lower levels of traffic using the M56.

    Between July and September we will be installing measures to protect species during the construction phase. We will need to close the hard shoulder and lane 1 overnight to carry out this work.

    If you would like to receive weekly email updates about upcoming planned lane and carriageway closures, please email Kirstie Golightly, Communications and Stakeholder manager for the project, at Kirstie.Golightly@gallifordtry.co.uk.

  • 12 June 2020

    Vegetation clearance

    We’ve now completed our vegetation clearance along the motorway verges as part of the preparation for the main construction work of the project. We are committed to protecting the local environment and have retained as much of the vegetation as possible during these works.

Project information


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.

Smart motorways are a technology-driven approach to tackling the most congested parts of the motorway network, improving journey reliability by controlling the flow and speed of traffic. Smart motorways also support the economy by providing much-needed capacity on the busiest motorways, while maintaining safety for road users and those who work on the roads.

The existing M56 is a rural dual three-lane motorway with a hard shoulder, with the exception of sections on both carriageways near junction 7 where the hard shoulder has been converted into additional running lanes. As part of this scheme, we will convert the hard shoulder into a running lane on the full stretch between junctions 6 and 7 and through junction 6 westbound.

The scheme involves:

  • converting the hard shoulder to create a new additional permanent traffic lane between junctions 6 and 8
  • new electronic information signs and signals and CCTV cameras on overhead gantries. These will show variable mandatory speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents
  • installing remotely operated temporary traffic management signs along the entire route, which form a key safety feature of the work
  • four new emergency areas to provide an area of relative safety following a breakdown
  • new emergency roadside telephones in each emergency area. These will connect you directly to our Regional Operations Centres and pinpoint your location
  • replacing the central reservation with a new concrete barrier to help increase safety
  • new low-noise surfacing on lanes 1 and 4 on both sides of the carriageway

It is expected that this smart motorway scheme will:

  • increase motorway capacity and reduce congestion on this key route into Manchester
  • smooth traffic flows
  • provide more reliable journey times to Manchester Airport
  • increase and improve the quality of information for the driver, for example, through variable messaging signs (in relation to the operation of the motorway)



Traffic information

Information about scheduled roadworks and events on our motorways and major roads.

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