The M56 motorway, also known as the North Cheshire motorway, is in Cheshire and Greater Manchester, England. It runs from Junction 4 of the M60 to Dunkirk, near Chester. With a length of 33.3 miles (53.6 km), it is often busy with long-distance commuter traffic towards North Wales. It serves commuters heading to Manchester, particularly those from the wider Cheshire area, and gives access to Manchester Airport from the national motorway network.[1] The road forms part of the unsigned Euroroute E22.


1 Route 2 History 3 Junctions

3.1 Junction 7 slip closures 3.2 Thorley Lane bridge replacement

4 Traffic counts 5 Upgrades 6 M56 corridor 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Route[edit] Although the main line of the motorway starts as a continuation of the A5103 Princess Parkway, the M56 begins on Sharston Spur (also known as the Sharston Bypass) where it detaches from the M60 motorway. After passing through junctions 1 and 2, the spur joins the main line at junction 3, increasing from two lanes to four to accommodate Manchester Airport traffic. The road then heads south to the west of Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport until it reaches junction 6, where it turns west. It runs to the south of Hale, reducing to three lanes. It passes junctions 7 and 8 which are part of the same complex. Junction 8 was planned to be used by the proposed A556(M)[2]. Current proposals are to upgrade the A556 to a dual carriageway.[3] Traffic for the southbound M6 leaves here and so the junction can suffer from congestion. The motorway then enters a more rural setting between Broomedge and High Legh. After meeting the M6 motorway, it passes south of Appleton Thorn. After reaching junction 11, it runs through the outskirts of Runcorn and Frodsham. Between junctions 12 and 14, and the missing junction 13, it runs parallel to the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. After meeting the M53 motorway, the road finally returns to two lanes, it proceeds between Chester to the south and Ellesmere Port to its termination at Dunkirk, Cheshire, where it becomes the A494. Traffic for North Wales can take either the M53 or the A494 to reach the A55. The motorway services on the M56 are Chester (Run by Roadchef) and Lymm (Run by Moto, also accessible from M6) History[edit] The first proposal for a road along this route was agreed in 1958 and it entered the Trunk Road Programme for 1967/1968.[4] Construction began in 1968[5] and the motorway opened in stages between 1971 and 1981:[6]

Junctions 1 to 3 opened in 1971. Junctions 3 to 7 opened in 1972. Junctions 7 to 9 opened in 1974. Junctions 9 to 11 opened in 1975. Junctions 11 to 14 opened in 1971. Junctions 14 to 16 opened in 1981.

Proposals existed for an extension into North Wales across the proposed Dee Barrage,[7] but these have not happened.[8] Until 2008 the M56 terminated at a roundabout at the west end. Work started in 2006[9] to grade-separate this junction (and others) to allow free-flowing traffic to North Wales. The project was completed in 2008. Junctions[edit] Data[10] from driver location signs are used to provide distance information.

M56 motorway junctions

mile km Eastbound exits (B Carriageway) Junction Westbound exits (A Carriageway)

Motorway merges onto M60 continuing towards Stockport M60 J4 Start of motorway (Sharston Spur)

Manchester City Centre, Didsbury A34 J1 No access (on-slip only)

No access (on-slip only) J2 Altrincham, Wythenshawe A560, Liverpool (M62), Bolton (M61) (M60)

End of motorway Road continues as A5103 towards Manchester J3A Sharston, Altrincham, Baguley A560

Altrincham, Wythenshawe, Wythenshawe , Cheadle A560 Start of motorway (Princess Parkway Spur)

Manchester City Centre, (M60(N&W)), (M62(W)), (M61) (A5103) J3 (TOTSO EB) No access (on-slip only)

7.2 11.6 No access (on-slip only) J4 Wythenshawe

Motorway ends at Terminals 1 and 3 Roundabout Terminal 2 Cheadle, Wilmslow, Wythenshawe, Moss Nook (B5166), Manchester Business Park Buxton (A6), Congleton, Manchester (A34) A555 Terminal 1, Terminal 3

Start of motorway (Airport Spur)

Terminal 2

No access (on-slip only)

7.8 12.6 Manchester J5 Manchester , Quarry Bank Mill

8.9 14.3 Hale, Wilmslow, Macclesfield A538 J6 Wilmslow, Hale, Macclesfield, Manchester Airport Freight Terminal A538

Entering Greater Manchester

River Bollin

River Bollin Entering Cheshire

12.4 19.9 Northwich A556, Altrincham A56 J7 Birmingham (M6(S)), Northwich A556, Lymm A56

No access J8 No access (on-slip only)

17.6 28.3 Preston, Birmingham M6, Leeds, Manchester (N) (M62), Lymm (A50) Lymm Truck Stop J9 Services Preston M6, Liverpool (M62), Warrington, Lymm (A50) Lymm Truck Stop

20.8 33.4 Warrington, Northwich A49 J10 Northwich, Warrington A49

23.8 38.3 Runcorn (East), Warrington A56 J11 Preston Brook, Daresbury A56

A533 J11A A533

26.8 43.1 Liverpool , Runcorn, Widnes A557 J12 Liverpool , Frodsham, Runcorn, Widnes A557

Weaver Viaduct

31.9 51.4 Stanlow, Helsby A5117 Chester services J14 Services Helsby, Stanlow, Chester Zoo A5117 Chester services

34.5 55.6 No access (on-slip only) J15 Chester, Wrexham M53

No access (on-slip only) Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead M53

Start of motorway J16 End of motorway Road continues as A494 towards North Wales

Ellesmere Port A5117, Whitchurch (A41) Non-motorway traffic Hoylake, Chester A540, Birkenhead (A550)

1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

      Incomplete access       Unopened

Junction 7 slip closures[edit] At junction 7 in July 2009, the slip road letting traffic come in southbound along the M56 and turn onto the A556 southbound was closed while the bridge where it crosses the M56 (the Bowdon View Bridge), which for many years had had a weight restriction, was worked on; traffic intending to use it had to carry on to junction 10 and there turn round, or go through the centre of Altrincham; traffic for the nearby Tatton Park Flower Show, and the resulting closure to through traffic of the minor road along the southwest edge of Tatton Park from Ashley, Cheshire to Mere, Cheshire (which would otherwise have acted as a bypass for people living in the area), added to the resulting congestion. In October and November 2010, the bridge was demolished and replaced.[11][12][13][14] Thorley Lane bridge replacement[edit] On Saturday 28 February and Sunday 1 March 2015, the new concrete girders of the Thorley Lane bridge a little north of Manchester Airport were put in. (The old bridge was demolished because it was found to be cracking.) The M56 was closed over that weekend for this. This caused much traffic congestion from M56 traffic diverted through Altrincham and Wythenshawe and along Styal Road and Kingsway, starting on Thursday 26 March because of work putting cones on the carriageway. Traffic counts[edit]

Section Capacity AADT (2016)

J1-J2 D2 (65,000)[15] 96,035

J2-J3 69,011

J3-J3A (Princess Parkway Spur) D3 (97,000)[15] 95,310

J3-J4 D4 (130,000)[15] 164,320

J4-J5 146,415

Airport Spur D2 (65,000)[15] 55,470

J5-J6 D4 (130,000)[15] 131,478

J6-J7/8 D3 (97,000)[15] 109,830

J7/8-J9 83,512

J9-J10 118,553

J10-J11 125,832

J11-J12 100,518

J12-J14 120,243

J14-J15 109,465

J15-J16 D2 (65,000)[15] 43,942

Upgrades[edit] The Government announced in August 2015 that the motorway would be upgraded to a smart motorway as part of the Northern Powerhouse strategy. There will also be a new junction 11a at Runcorn between the existing Junctions 11 and 12 to relieve heavy congestion on this stretch and serve the new Mersey Gateway bridge. Work is due to commence on the new junction in Spring 2020. [16][17] M56 corridor[edit] "The M56 corridor" is a term used by estate agents and social geographers to describe what is considered to be a relatively affluent area of North West England, within easy reach of the M56. The area includes the cities of Manchester and Chester, and commuter towns and villages in rural Cheshire. It also includes Warrington and Runcorn where the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are prominent.[18] See also[edit]

Cheshire portal

List of motorways in the United Kingdom A56 road Chester to Manchester Line


^ "Motorway Database » M56". CBRD. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ Steven Jukes. "Pathetic Motorways - A556(M)". Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ "Highways Agency Press Release". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ "The Motorway Archive - M56 Scheme Introduction". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ "The Motorway Archive - M56 Dates Page". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ "CBRD Motorway Database - M56 Timeline". Retrieved 16 April 2018.  ^ "The Motorway Archive - M56 J16 to J14". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 23 July 1993 - Column 403". Retrieved 1 January 2012. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) ^ "Highways Agency - A5117 / A550 Deeside Park Junctions Improvement". Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ Driver Location Signs, Highway Agency Area 10 (map) - Highway Authority, 2009 ^ "Bridge repair work on M56 extended to three weekends". BBC News. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.  ^ "M56 Bowdon View Bridge successfully demolished". 18 October 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ "M56 Junction 7 Bowdon View Bridge Replacement and Junction Improvement". 4 July 2011. Archived from the original on 27 August 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.  ^ "M56 bridge repair works continue near Bowdon". BBC News. 23 October 2010.  ^ a b c d e f g "Traffic Flow Ranges for Use in the Assessment of New Rural Roads" (PDF). Retrieved 30 July 2017.  ^ ^ "A Highways England road project - M56 new junction 11a". Retrieved 16 April 2018.  ^ "M56 corridor dated 2008-09-17". Property Week article. 19 April 2002. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 

External links[edit] Route map: Google

KML file (edit • help)

Display on Google Maps

Template:Attached KML/M56 motorway KML is from Wikidata

CBRD Motorway Database - M56 The Motorway Archive - M56

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A1(M) A3(M) A8(M) A38(M) A48(M) A57(M) A58(M) A64(M) A66(M) A74(M) A167(M) A194(M) A308(M) A329(M) A404(M) A601(M) A627(M) A823(M)

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