The M56 motorway between Bowdon and Hale is to close for an entire weekend

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The stretch of the M56 between Bowdon and Hale Barns will be closed for an entire weekend later this month as part of ongoing smart motorway work.

The affected section will totally close at 9pm on Friday 25th March and will not reopen until 5.30am on Monday 28th March.

The eastbound M56 will be closed from junction 9 at Lymm interchange with the M6 to junction 5 for Manchester Airport; the westbound carriageway will be closed from junction 5 to junction 8 at Bowdon. Clearly-signed diversions will be in place.

It’s all part of an £85million project to add extensive extra technology and an extra lane in each carriageway in order to improve journeys through the section, which carries up to 100,000 vehicles a day.

The closure will allow a giant, 450 tonne crane to be moved onto the motorway to lift two 60 tonne ‘superspan’ gantries into place across both the eastbound and westbound carriageways.

The gantries will support technology so National Highways’ regional operations centre near Warrington can manage traffic and identify and locate incidents.

Work to convert the hard shoulders and prepare foundations for gantries has been taking place recently

Clare Bond, National Highways project manager, said: “We only close a motorway for a weekend in exceptional circumstances but doing the work this way will mean we can avoid multiple separate overnight carriageway closures at other times.

“Getting a crane on site and installing the two huge gantries – which will span eight lanes of the motorway – will be the most visible feature of the weekend’s operation but we will be squeezing in as much other work as possible and also working hard this month to warn drivers far and wide that this is happening.

“We’re urging drivers to spend a little more time planning their journeys during the weekend closure – including checking traffic conditions before setting out, leaving a bit of extra time and following the diversion information.”

Over the weekend, access to Manchester Airport at junction 5 will be maintained via the westbound M56. However, drivers not on airport or local journeys such as those travelling longer distances between Manchester and the Midlands, Wirral, and North Wales are being advised to avoid the area and use alternative motorway routes.

A westbound diversion will operate using the M60, M62 and M6. Drivers from the Midlands and North Wales planning to use the eastbound M56 to head to the airport or Manchester city centre will need to use the M6, M62 and M60 diversion instead.

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