A four-mile section of M56 motorway between junction 6 at Hale and junction 8 at Bowdon will have its hard shoulders turned into traffic lanes to provide extra capacity. Traffic sensors and variable message gantries will be installed to set speed restrictions during peak traffic flow.
Four emergency areas (two in each direction) will provide refuge for motorists in the event of break downs or other emergencies.
Highways England’s preparations for the £85m upgrade started in the spring of 2020, clearing vegetation in the motorway verge. But now main construction work will get under way at the end of the month with traffic management along the motorway for the first time
Construction work is expected to be completed by March 2022.
Galliford Try was awarded a £67m contract for the job in May 2018 – two-and-a-half years ago. However, it was one of many road projects bumped out of Highways England’s planned programme of works for RIS1 (road investment strategy 1 – 2015-2020) into the RIS2 regulatory period that started in April 2020.
Mike Bull, Highways England’s smart motorways programme manager for the northwest, said at the time that the M56 upgrade was being delayed because motorists in the area had enough disruption from roadworks recently.
Meanwhile, Costain’s £150m contract to convert 10 miles of the M6 to smart motorway between junctions 21a and 26 (Warrington to Wigan) – also bumped from RIS1 into RIS2 – still remains on hold for now, waiting for an announcement.