Press release

Weekend closure for bridge lift as £5.5 million scheme nears completion

The M56 at Manchester Airport will close for a whole weekend at the end of February as work to install a £5.5 million new bridge at Thorley Lane nears completion.


The Highways Agency has confirmed the final phase of the bridge works will begin with a full weekend closure of the M56 between junction 6 at Hale and junction 5 at Manchester Airport between 10pm on Friday 27 February and 5am on Monday 2 March.

Access for people heading to Manchester Airport will be maintained at all times throughout the weekend – but other drivers are urged to avoid the area and use the official diversion routes instead.

Highways Agency Project Sponsor Mark Mosley said:

We would like to thank drivers for their patience with our work on this project over the last few months. The end is now in sight and following the demolition of the old bridge last August we have been building the new bridge on a site next to the motorway. Over the weekend at the end of February this will be carefully wheeled onto the motorway and then lifted into place.>

As previously publicised, that work does require a second and very unusual full weekend closure of the motorway but access to the airport will be maintained at all times. Other drivers should completely avoid this part of the motorway network and use the very good diversions we’ll have in place.

Over the weekend, drivers heading along the eastbound M56 to Manchester Airport from the M6, other parts of Cheshire and North Wales will need to leave the motorway at junction 6 and use the short diversion to the airport via Runger Lane. All other drivers will need to use the M6, M62 and M60 diversion route in place from junction 9 of the M56 at Lymm Interchange.

Drivers heading to Manchester Airport from Manchester, the M60 and routes further east such as those in Yorkshire can access the airport as normal - from the westbound M56 at junction 5. However, anyone seeking to travel beyond the airport into Cheshire and towards North Wales should totally avoid the M56 and use the M60, M62 and M6 diversion via Lymm Interchange instead. Manchester Airports Group (MAG) Director of Passenger Services, Wayne Poole said: “Whilst every effort is being made to minimise the disruption to airport users, the M56 closure will affect people travelling to and from Manchester Airport so we ask that people plan ahead for this closure and leave extra time to complete their journeys.

We would also ask that anyone who is not travelling to Manchester Airport during the closure to please follow the relevant diversion signs to help you reach your intended destination as quickly as possible.

More information about the weekend closure, including more detailed diversion advice, is available from the project webpage.

The old bridge, west of junction 5 of the motorway, closed last May ahead of its demolition in August. The new one is being installed in a £5.5m government ‘pinch-point’ initiative aimed at stimulating the creation of 3,000 new jobs at Davenport Green and Airport City by 2030 plus 5,650 homes around Altrincham, Bowdon and Hale by 2026.

The project is one of 123 in the Government’s £317 million ‘pinch-point’ initiative – a two-year programme of targeted work being delivered alongside larger schemes and routine maintenance and improvements along the strategic road network.

The pinch-point programme, devised with the input of councils and local enterprise partnerships, is designed to help stimulate new development and local economic growth by improving road safety and tackling congestion bottle-necks. In all, 28 projects, worth £66 million, are being delivered across the North West.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 19 January 2015