M56 upgrade moves to 70mph

The upgrade of the M56 between Altrincham and Hale in Greater Manchester has moved to operation at 70 mph.

Operation at the maximum national speed limit of 70mph was introduced on the stretch of smart motorway following work to calibrate technology, including stopped vehicle detection.

A separate project involving overnight work to resurface lanes along both carriageways started at the end of May and will continue until the end of July.

The M56 junction 6 to junction 8 upgrade began 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 and the ability to use variable speed limits to smooth traffic. 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. 

Drivers are also able to use any of the four new orange coloured emergency areas if they need to stop in an emergency. Emergency areas are clearly marked by blue signs featuring an orange emergency area shape and SOS telephone symbol.

The operators have a better view of the approaching traffic via CCTV, and they can help drivers to safely re-join the carriageway; this may involve temporarily closing lane one via a Red X sign, displaying a warning message or sending a traffic officer patrol to help.

(Picture – National Highways)


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