Drivers in Cheshire are set to benefit from a major road improvement that gets underway today (14 November) to upgrade a five mile section of the A556 to dual carriageway.
Valued at £191.9 million, the upgrade will see a mile-long section of the existing A556 upgraded from junction 7 of the M56 near Bowdon before breaking away to the west, bypassing the village centres of Bucklow Hill, Mere and Over Tabley. It will then join up with junction 19 of the M6 near Knutsford.
Jeremy Bloom, Divisional Director at the Highways Agency, said:
Anyone who regularly travels along the current route of the A556 will recognise that it needs upgrading to reduce the existing delays and to improve safety along the route. Local residents have also had to put up with over 50,000 vehicles passing their homes every day, including thousands of lorries.
The new dual carriageway, being provided as part of government’s commitment to invest £24 billion in roads by 2021, will provide a direct link between the M56 and the M6, reducing congestion and allowing for faster, more reliable journey times. This cuts costs and improves productivity for businesses and commuters. I’m confident that in two years’ time when the new road opens, that everybody who uses the A556 will appreciate the massive difference this improvement makes.
The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, gave permission for the A556 scheme to go ahead earlier this year following a public consultation and recommendation by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.
The new bypass will take traffic away from local villages where numerous side roads, driveways and field entrances currently connect with the road. Improvements will also be made to the layout of junction 7 of the M56.
The first stage of the project will involve contractors diverting gas, water and electricity supplies, carrying out ecological surveys and installing fences. A temporary 40mph speed limit will be in place between Bucklow Hill and Bowdon for the safety of both road workers and road users.
The new dual carriageway is expected to open in Winter 2016/17. Work to convert the existing A556 to a local road, including creating a separate track for horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians will also be undertaken as part of the scheme.
After the new road has opened, the part of the A556 being bypassed will be reduced to one lane in each direction. It will be renamed and Cheshire East Council will take on responsibility for maintenance. Direct access onto the old road from junction 19 of the M6 will no longer be possible when the new dual carriageway opens.
Motorists, businesses and local residents will be able to find out more about the project at an exhibition in Knutsford later this month, where members of the Highways Agency’s project team will be available to answer questions.
More details on the scheme are available at www.highways.gov.uk/a556improvements.
Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.