Manchester Airport travel warning amid motorway road closures - affected route, dates, diversions

Roadworks on the M56, which links the M6 to Manchester Airport, could affect travellers driving in from Merseyside, North Wales and Cheshire.
Some of the work involves installing signs on gantries over the eastbound carriageway. Image: National HighwaysSome of the work involves installing signs on gantries over the eastbound carriageway. Image: National Highways
Some of the work involves installing signs on gantries over the eastbound carriageway. Image: National Highways

Holidaymakers heading to Manchester Airport for late night and early morning flights over the next few weeks are being warned by the National Highways agency to allow extra time for car journeys.

Overnight work to transform a busy section of the M56, which links the M6 to Manchester Airport, will continue into August as families prepare to jet off on holiday.

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The £85 million upgrade of the motorway will mainly affect travellers driving in from Merseyside, North Wales and parts of Cheshire who want to use the eastbound carriageway towards Manchester.

When will the roadworks take place?

The revamp of the motorway will hit holidaymakers heading to the airport for late night and early morning flights between Thursday July 14 and Friday 5 August into Saturday 6 August.

The route will be open at weekends, with following overnight closures of the eastbound carriageway now confirmed:

  • Thursday 14 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Friday 15 July (9pm to 7am)
  • Monday 18 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Tuesday 19 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Wednesday 20 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Thursday 21 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Friday 22 July (9pm to 7am)
  • Monday 25 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Tuesday 26 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Wednesday 27 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Thursday 28 July (9pm to 6am)
  • Friday 29 July (9pm to 7am)
  • Monday 1 August (9pm to 6am)
  • Tuesday 2 August (9pm to 6am)
  • Wednesday 3 August (9pm to 6am)
  • Thursday 4 August (9pm to 6am)
  • Friday 5 August (9pm to 7am)

Affected routes and diversions

National Highways are upgrading the motorway between junction 6 at Hale Barnes and junction 8 at Bowdon and has confirmed the eastbound M56 west of the airport will be closed nightly, apart from at weekends.

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The main junction for the airport – junction 5 – has remained open right throughout the project but drivers using the eastbound M56 have had to take a diversion to get to junction 5 when occasional overnight closures of the carriageway from junction 7 at Altrincham have been in place.

Holidaymakers driving to Manchester Airport from the Merseyside area via the M6 should exit for the M62 at Junction 21a Croft Interchange and then join the M60 south, rather than taking junction 19 for the M56.

Anyone travelling the airport from junction 7 of the motorway at Altrincham should use the northbound A56 through Altrincham, eastbound A56, then the southbound A5144 Thorley Lane/Delahays Road and eastbound A538 Hale Road from Timperely to Hale Barns then using Runger Lane to get to the airport and junction 5.  This route is not suitable for commercial vehicles.

Drivers preferring to use the alternative motorway route should join or stay on the M6 at Lymm interchange – M56 junction 9/M6 Junction 20 – travelling north to junction 21 of the M6 where they should join the eastbound A57 Manchester Road, anti-clockwise M60 and westbound M56 for junction 5.

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The overnight work over the next few weeks includes safety-critical working-at-height activities such as fitting new hard and electronic signs on gantries over the motorway requiring multiple platforms and cranes.

Full details of all the closures and diversion routes are on the project’s dedicated webpage which also features a special advice leaflet for drivers making summer journeys to the airport.

Drivers are advised to check traffic conditions before setting out on journeys. Live traffic information is always available at or from National Highways’ 24-7 customer contact centre at 0300 123 5000. Updates will also be posted to @HighwaysNWest – National Highways’ regional Twitter feed.

The four-mile section of motorway between junction 6 and junction 8 is part of the important corridor between Manchester and Manchester Airport and the Midlands.

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As well as installing technology to help provide smoother journeys, National Highways is busy converting the hard shoulders to add an extra running lane to both the westbound and eastbound carriageways.

A new central reservation concrete safety barrier, low noise surfacing, four emergency areas – providing a place to stop in the event of break downs or other emergencies – and technology to alert the control centre to breakdowns and incidents will also have been installed before the extra lanes open to drivers by the end of the year.

What’s been said

Sajjad Ali, National Highways’ M56 upgrade project manager, said: “We’ve had overnight eastbound carriageway closures in place regularly over the last year as we’ve worked to deliver this vital investment in the region’s economy.  The diversions have worked well but with activities at the airport ramping up for the summer after the pandemic we wanted to remind drivers to factor in some extra time for motorway journeys to the airport.

“It’s important to note we started liaising with Manchester Airport Group well before the M56 motorway upgrade even started. We have an ongoing conversation with the airport about our construction programme and only close carriageways when we need the space to work safely.

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“On nights when the eastbound carriageway is closed those good diversions will be in place but our key message for people heading to the airport for an early morning flight is to please spend a little time planning journeys before setting out and follow the diversion advice once you are approaching the airport.”