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.

Start date Spring 2020
End date Spring 2022
Cost TBC

Latest updates

  • 12 January 2021

    January 2021 – Upcoming work

    From January 2021 onwards, we’ll be carrying out work to remove the existing electronic signs and CCTV from the overhead structures. We’ll also remove some of the smaller digital roadside signs on both sides of the carriageway between junctions 6 and 8.

    Other upcoming works will include:

    • kerb and pavement repair work
    • earthworks including the regrading of existing slopes, construction of a piling platform, some excavation works for structures and drainage work with some gully repairs
    • installation of new ducting, cabinets and cables for the technology and communications  
    • removal and replacement of street furniture such as existing motorway traffic signs, technology equipment and vehicle barriers
    • installation of ducts under the carriageways to carry cables across the road
    • construction of retaining walls for the emergency access areas and for the technology equipment

    In order to carry out these works safely, we will need to have lane, slip road and full overnight closures of the carriageway.

    All diversion routes will be clearly signed. For the most up to date traffic information please visit Traffic England.

    Alternatively, if you would like to be added to our weekly traffic management bulletin please email M56Junctions6-8@Gallifordtry.co.uk

    You can view our diversion routes for any closures below.

    See our latest project newsletter for more information about the project.

  • 18 December 2020

    Planned works for the New Year

    Over the Christmas and New Year period, although you may not see work being carried out, our traffic management and the 50mph temporary speed limit will need to remain in place for the safety of road users.

    From January 2021 onwards, we’ll be carrying out work to remove the existing electronic signs and CCTV from the overhead structures, and also remove some of the smaller digital roadside signs on both sides of the carriageway between junctions 6 and 8. Other upcoming works will include:

    • pavement repair works at junction 6
    • installation of a temporary concrete safety barrier system to allow the existing safety barrier to be removed
    • earthworks and drainage work with some gully repairs
    • installation of new ducting for the new technology cables

    In order to carry out these works safely, we will need to have overnight entry and exit slip road closures, and also some full overnight closures of the carriageway.

    All diversion routes will be clearly signed. For the most up to date traffic information please visit Traffic England.

    Alternatively if you would like to be added to our scheme traffic management bulletin please email M56Junctions6-8@Gallifordtry.co.uk

    You can view our diversion routes for any closures below.

  • 02 November 2020

    Start of main construction work

    The M56 junctions 6 to 8 scheme is part of our programme to add capacity to the motorway network. The upgrade will reduce congestion levels and smooth traffic flows, providing more reliable journey times.

    Earlier this year we began clearing vegetation in the motorway verge, and we’ll now be starting the main construction work on the project in November 2020. We expect to complete our main construction work by March 2022.

    Construction will inevitably have some impact on road users, the local community and businesses. To reduce the impact on road users, we’ll be installing a contraflow system and narrow lanes to maintain three lanes running in each direction during the day. There will be a reduced speed limit of 50mph throughout our roadworks.

    These measures are being put in place to allow road users to continue travelling through our roadworks without compromising their safety, or that of our workforce. We expect that the average journey time will only increase by a maximum of 2 minutes during our roadworks.

    We will need to use occasional overnight closures of the motorway to complete work which cannot be carried out safely with traffic using the road. We will keep closures to an absolute minimum in order to cause the least disruption possible. Wherever possible, the noisier operations will be carried out during the day to reduce disturbance on communities.

    When closures are required, closure information will be advertised on Traffic England and sent to stakeholders via email. Clearly signed diversions will be in place.

    We’ll also operate a 24/7 free recovery service throughout our roadworks, to help any stranded vehicles that have broken down within our work area.

    Contraflow

    A contraflow is a temporary arrangement where traffic is transferred from its usual side to share the other half of the carriageway with traffic moving in the opposite direction. This layout will provide a wider working space in the verge, allowing our teams to safely speed up certain construction activities. A contraflow will reduce the amount of overnight closures we need, which will benefit road users and residents living on diversion routes.

    The contraflow allows us to carry out larger activities during that day that we’d normally have to carry out at night with a closure. As there is more space in the verge to work, site vehicles will be able to pass each other without having to wait until another team has finished an activity. As there will be less traffic management to install overnight, this gives us a greater working window to complete the project quickly.

    View contraflow diagram.

    For diversion routes, please see the folder below, under 'Project information'.

Project information

Overview

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.

Road closures

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.

Narrow lanes

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.

Contraflow

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

The speed limit has been reduced to 50mph on the working and non-working side of the carriageway.

This is necessary for the safety of everyone. Roadworks create a different environment for drivers in which reactions and behaviour change.

The reduced speed limits are enforceable which is why the average speed cameras have been installed.

Keep up to date with closure information

We advise you to plan ahead by checking Traffic England’s website for the latest travel information. Manchester Airport’s webpage also shares our closure information in advance.

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.

Breakdown recovery

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.

Strategic diversion

Westbound

Eastbound

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

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.

Drainage

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.

Documents

Traffic information

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

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