THE main construction work on the M56 will get underway this month.

The four-mile section of motorway between junction 6 at Hale and junction 8 at Bowdon is one of the busiest in the North West – carrying 100,000 vehicles a day as part of the important corridor between Manchester and Manchester Airport and the Midlands.

As part of the project, an extra running lane will be added to both the westbound and eastbound carriageways to tackle congestion and provide more reliable journeys for city centre commuters and businesses as well as tourists and workers using the airport.

Technology will also be installed to manage vehicles through the upgraded motorway - providing smoother journeys – and four emergency areas will provide refuge in the event of break downs or other emergencies.

Highways England’s preparations for the £85 million upgrade started in the spring but the main construction work will get underway at the end of the month with traffic management along the motorway. A contraflow system will be in operation from the start – helping to reduce the number of carriageway or full motorway closures needed during construction.

Highways England project manager Clare Bond said: “The start of the main construction work is a significant milestone for this project which will ease congestion and make journeys more reliable once it opens to drivers in 2022.

“This is one of the busiest sections of motorway in the North West but using the contraflow system during construction will allow us to keep all the motorway lanes open during the day with occasional overnight lane and carriageway closures.”

The eastbound hard shoulder will be converted into a running lane first with work switching to the westbound hard shoulder late next spring, followed by construction of a concrete central reservation barrier between the three junctions from September. Systems installation and testing after that should see the smart motorway to open to traffic by spring 2022 at the latest.