Lanes open on upgraded M56

An extra lane’s been opened on each carriageway of the M56 between Altrincham and Hale in Greater Manchester, designed to to improve journey times and reliability for the tens of thousands of drivers who use the route daily.

The upgrade between junction 6 for Hale Barns and junction 8 at Bowdon cost £85 million.

The section will run at a maximum of 60mph, with other interim safety measures in place, until work to calibrate technology, including stopped vehicle detection, is completed. The upgrade is then expected to fully open, with the 70mph maximum national speed limit restored, early this spring. Some overnight work to resurface lanes along both carriageways will start shortly after.

The project started in March 2020 and, alongside adding an extra lane in both the eastbound and westbound carriageways, has involved providing extra technology and safety enhancements, including stopped vehicle detection. Stopped vehicle detection uses radar technology to alert National Highways’ control centre operators who can then close lanes with a Red X signal, display speed limits and deploy traffic officers.   

Temporary additional CCTV from the roadworks and a free recovery service will remain in place alongside the new permanent systems during the technology commissioning period. Drivers will also be able to use any of the four new emergency areas if they need to stop in an emergency. 

National Highways launched a new ‘Driving on motorways’ hub last year – providing information about the main features of smart motorways, and advice and guidance on safer driving and what to do in an emergency:

(Picture – National Highways)


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