A556 Knutsford to Bowdon improvement

Improving the A556 trunk road between Knutsford and Bowdon by creating a modern dual carriageway road. The existing A556 will become a single carriageway road with facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Region:  North West
Start date:  10 November 2014
Cost:  ¬£191.9 million
Type:  Major Scheme
End date:  March 2017

Progress report

On Monday 6 March 2017 we opened the new A556 to traffic. With drivers now using the new road, we‚Äôre working on the next phase of the project which involves detrunking the ‚Äėold‚Äô A556 Chester Road.

Detrunking means that a redesigned Chester Road will be re-classified as the B5569 and will become the responsibility of Cheshire East Council. The redesign, agreed with the local authority, includes giving the road a rural look to discourage ‚Äėrat running‚Äô and use by anything other than local traffic.

The completed A556 link road

Check our roadworks tab for latest closure dates.


Date Event
August 2014 Secretary of State granted development consent
November 2014 Work started on site
28 and 29 November 2014 Public Information Event at the Curzon Cinema, Knutsford
November 2014 Construction begins
December 2014 Enabling work and environmental mitigation work
Spring 2015 Utility diversion works commence
Spring 2015 Work on bridges starts
Spring 2015 Earthworks begin
Winter 2015/6 Side road works start
November 2015 Public information event and open day at site compound
Spring 2016 Pavement works commence
Early 2017 Finishing works
Early 2017 New road open to traffic
Autumn/Winter 2017 Detrunking works
End March 2017 Completion

Why we need this scheme

The A556 carries approximately 51,500 vehicles daily, around 11% of which are lorries. The section of the A556 between the M56 junction 7 and the M6 junction 19 is 4 miles (6.5km) long and is currently mainly a single 4 lane carriageway, with sections of dual 2 lane carriageway.

Numerous properties and field entrances have direct access onto the A556. As well as the 2 motorway junctions, there are also 2 other major junctions that connect local roads to the A556. These are the Bucklow Hill junction, and Mere junction. Both junctions are controlled by traffic lights and have restricted turning movements.

All of this means traffic is often severely congested at junctions along the A556, particularly at peak times, during roadworks and following incidents such as collisions.

Most seriously, there were 98 personal injury accidents on the A556 (including relevant parts of its junctions with the M6, A50, A5034 and M56) in the period January 2007 to December 2011, including 1 fatality and 13 serious injuries.


The objectives for the scheme are to:

  • improve road safety and journey time reliability
  • improve the local environment in Bucklow Hill and Mere
  • reduce conflicts between long distance and local traffic
  • minimise the environmental impacts of the scheme, during construction and once open to traffic

The scheme in detail

The A556 is a major trunk road between north Cheshire and south Manchester. The section that we are improving is between the M6 junction 19 near Tabley/Knutsford and the M56 junction 7 near Bowdon. To the northern end of the A556 are the communities of Altrincham, Bowdon and Hale.

To the west of the existing road, a new dual carriageway will bypass the communites of Tabley, Mere and Bucklow Hill before rejoining the existing route of the A556 at a point near to Bucklow Manor. We are also making improvements to junction 7 of the M56.

Environment impact


We’ll be planting trees and shrubs and carrying out landscape works to screen the road and help it sit less intrusively within the local landscape.


We'll be creating replacement habitats for any species that may be disturbed by the works. We will provide safe crossings to compensate if the new road cuts through habitats. This will include the creation of our first ‚ÄúGreen Bridge‚ÄĚ ‚Äď a safe crossing for wildlife and for agricultural access.

Air quality

We'll regulate and control emissions during construction to make sure they are not significant. On opening, the road will operate at 60mph to help counter any air quality impact from traffic. We’ll continue to monitor conditions and, as soon as air quality concentrations, allow we will increase the speed limit to 70mph.

Cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians

The de-trunked Chester Road will be reduced to a single carriageway after the opening of the new route.

The existing southbound carriageway will become two lanes, one in each direction and the existing northbound lanes will be used to provide a shared pathway for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.

We'll replace the redundant outside lane with a mounded grass bund. The existing A556 will be renamed and reclassified to discourage its use by non-local traffic.


We’ve carried out preliminary archaeological trial trenches so that we can record archaeological remains. We’ll also carry out recording works on historic buildings and landscapes in their current setting.

Project media files and documents

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Project timeline

Planned roadworks

Roadworks and Events for England

The latest incident information for England's motorway and trunk routes provided by Highways England

Location : The M56 westbound between junctions J5 and J7 . Reason : Roadworks scheme. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 20:02 on 26 February 2020 to 05:00 on 21 March 2020.
Posted: February 28, 2020, 9:18 pm
Location : The M56 westbound at junction J7 . Lane Closures : The hard shoulder and lane 1 are closed. Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 29 February 2020. Lanes Closed : There is one of three lanes closed.
Posted: February 28, 2020, 8:06 pm
Location : The M6 southbound at junction J19 . Lane Closures : The hard shoulder is closed. Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 13 March 2020.
Posted: February 28, 2020, 4:20 am
Location : The M6 northbound at junction J19 . Lane Closures : The hard shoulder is closed. Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 13 March 2020.
Posted: February 28, 2020, 4:20 am
Location : The M56 westbound at junction J7 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 05:00 from 2 March 2020 to 8 March 2020. Lanes Closed : There will be one of three lanes closed.
Posted: February 28, 2020, 4:20 am


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Impacting journeys for traffic northbound near Newark on Trent
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