M56 junction 6 to 8 smart motorway
We will build an all-lane running motorway on the M56 between junctions 6 and 8. This will provide increased capacity in a cost-effective way, maximising the use of the existing road.
We value your feedback
Visit our M56 junctions 6 to 8 smart motorway feedback tool to have your say. The tool includes an interactive map. You can click on a location to make a specific comment, or give us your general feedback.
If you require a direct response, please email M56J6-8SmartMotorway@highwaysengland.co.uk
This four-mile stretch of road, which is linked to several arterial trunk roads, is a vital part of the network for commuters and heavy goods vehicles travelling into Manchester city centre.
This section of the M56 carries in excess of 100,000 vehicles per day. Congestion and unreliable journey times are currently experienced at busy periods and traffic is predicted to grow in the future.
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 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 will show variable mandatory speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents. We'll build seven new gantries and retain 11 existing ones
- 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 by using variable speed limits
- 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)
The improvements will provide greater connectivity to other parts of the network through added lane capacity, supporting better freight transportation and contributing to local economic growth and planned development, such as Airport City.
Low-noise surfacing on lanes 1 and 4 in both directions will reduce noise for residents and road users. We'll provide some additional screening from the motorway by planting new native trees/vegetation along the route.
To complete this work safely, we'll use a number of measures including narrower lanes, a contraflow and lane restrictions.
During the initial phases of the scheme, full road closures are needed to safely install the traffic management layouts. Once this has been done, narrow lanes, a contraflow and partial night closures will reduce the need for full closures by 65%.
Further critical works may require us to close lanes, slip roads and the motorway.
When closures are required, we'll only close the motorway at night to keep disruption to a minimum. Closures will start at 9pm and the road will be re-opened by 5am the following morning, with clearly signed diversions put in place. Any slip road or motorway closures will be agreed with local police and other stakeholders, and will be publicised well in advance.
Installing narrow lanes allows us to retain three lanes of traffic during daytime hours, while the improvement works are carried out. The additional space created at the side of the motorway provides a safer working environment for our workforce.
A contraflow is a temporary arrangement where traffic on the road is transferred from its usual side, to share the other half of the carriageway with traffic moving in the opposite direction.
Reduced speed limits
We’ve carried out a risk assessment which considered the road layout and the type of work we’re carrying out. This has shown us that the highest safe speed we can operate the road at while we work is 50mph.
The speed limit through our roadworks is enforced by the Police, so please don’t exceed this or you may receive a penalty notice. Just because workers are not visible, it does not mean they are not present. This is especially true when operations are happening at night, but this also applies when visibility is restricted by works vehicles and equipment.
Keep up to date with closure information
You can also email the project team at M56Junctions6-8@Gallifordtry.co.uk to receive our weekly traffic management bulletin which is distributed every Friday and details any closures due to take place over the following two weeks.
During construction we'll provide a free recovery service for anyone who breaks down within the roadworks. You and your vehicle will be taken to nearby Lymm motorway services, where you'll need to arrange to be collected by your own breakdown recovery company.
Junction 5 Westbound entry slip
Junction 6 Westbound entry slip
Junction 6 Eastbound exit slip
Junction 6 Eastbound entry slip
Junction 7 (A556) Eastbound entry slip
M56 Jct 7 (A556) Eastbound Exit Slip
M56 J6 Westbound Exit Slip Closure
M56 Junction 6 eastbound diversion during full westbound closure
M56 Junction 7 and Junction 6 eastbound closure
Noise during the work
Where possible, the noisier operations will be done during the day. Some traffic management work, eg closing additional lanes, may need to take place at night. We’ll make every effort to limit the time taken on this.
We’ll minimise the impact on residents through the following measures:
- Where possible, we’ll use temporary noise screening
- Where screening is not feasible, we’ll do vegetation clearance during the day.
- Minimising noise at sensitive locations
- Providing advance notice of noisy activities.
Noise resulting from the completed scheme
The Environment Assessment Report has shown that there will be no significant impact on residents as a result of the scheme. No homes are expected to qualify for noise insulation under the requirements of the Noise Insulation Regulations, therefore no new noise barriers are proposed.
As part of this project, lanes 1 and 4 will be resurfaced with low noise surfacing. We also plan to resurface lanes 2 and 3 following completion of the project.
Dust, vibration and the environment
Dust-causing work will be planned to avoid sensitive locations where possible, and the following measures will be applied:
- Controlled vegetation clearance, standard pollution prevention control measures and measures to minimise dust, artificial lighting and noise.
- Additional planting to replace the loss of, and in some instances improve, existing screening vegetation. Native UK species will be used in the proposed planting and will aim to improve biodiversity.
- Protecting wildlife that is currently using the land within the proposed scheme or located close to it.
As part of the installation of key pieces of infrastructure such as gantries and emergency areas, some trees and vegetation will need to be removed. Vegetation clearance will be kept to a minimum to preserve as much of the highway verge screening and local ecology as possible. Where possible, vegetation that has been removed will be replaced.
Some of the required works can create vibration which may be felt in nearby properties situated close to the carriageway. The activities are used widely in the civil engineering industry and should not cause damage to either properties or their foundations.
The Environment Assessment Report considers impacts on noise and vibration, air quality, ecology and landscape and visual impacts.
We carried out an assessment which showed that the project won't cause a significant increase in surface water run-off, but we will improve the drains to ensure they can manage any increase.
An essential drainage repair scheme was completed in August 2020. It fixed a number of issues that had been identified during surveys for the project.
Habitat regulation assessment
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening
Notice of Determination
Environmental scoping report
Outline Environmental Management Plan
Environmental Assessment Report (EAR)
EAR Appendix A
EAR Appendix B
EAR Appendix B.7
EAR Appendix C
EAR Appendix D
EAR Appendix E
EAR Appendix F