M56 Thorley Lane Scheme

Project status:   Current
Region:  North West

Start date:   May 2014
End date:  March 2015

Type:   Improvement Scheme
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Improvement Scheme

Part of our programme of improvements (generally with value <£10m)

Cost:  £5.5 million

Managed by:   Area 10


The M56 will be closed at junction 5, from 10:00pm on Friday 27 February 2015 until 5:00am on Monday 2 March 2015, whilst the new Thorley Lane is placed over the motorway.  For traffic travelling to and from Manchester Airport from the Manchester direction will not be affected by the closure.  For traffic wishing to travel through junction 5, either eastbound or westbound, or from Manchester Airport westbound, clearly signed diversion routes will be in place.

What is happening?

Works will be carried out to improve the load capacity of the bridge carrying Thorley Lane in Altrincham over the M56 near junction 5 the Manchester Airport exit.  The existing bridge is to be demolished and a new bridge built in its place.

These works are part of the national Pinch Point Programme.  The Pinch Point Programme forms part of the UK Government's growth initiative, outlined during the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November 2011.

When and where is this happening?

Thorley Lane Bridge is located over the M56 at junction 5 the exit for Manchester Airport.

The construction started in May 2014 and is estimated to last until March 2015. 

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The existing Thorley Lane Bridge has deteriorated over time and has been assessed as being too weak to carry road traffic to current standards.  A weight limit has been imposed on the bridge which causes a restriction on the road network.  The bridge must be demolished and reconstructed with a new stronger bridge in order to maintain a safe local route over the M56.

The estimated cost is £5.5 million.

How will the scheme be carried out?

The scheme will be carried out in phases to minimise disruption to residents, businesses and the travelling public. 

  • The existing bridge and the pier in the central reservation will be demolished.
  • The central pier will be reconstructed and the bridge supports either side of the motorway will be rebuilt, whilst the motorway is open to traffic.
  •  The new bridge deck will be constructed.
  • The site will be reinstated to fully re-open to traffic.


What are the benefits?

As part of the Pinch Point Programme, this scheme aims to:

  • improve safety by removing the current weight restrictions on the road network in the area
  • boost the economy by removing traffic diversions necessitated by the weak bridge


How do I find out more information ?

More information will be posted on this project page as it becomes available. You can subscribe to be alerted when updates are made.

If you have any queries about this project you should contact the Highways Agency Information Line by emailing ha_​info@​highways.​gsi.​gov.​uk or calling 0300 123 5000.

Details of scheduled roadworks are provided to help you plan your journey. Please note that works are weather- and resource- dependent and may need to be cancelled at short notice. This information is not updated in real time so please check Traffic England for current traffic conditions. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guide only.

Will there be roadworks?

Yes, roadworks will be needed.  Thorley Lane itself is now closed to through traffic and during the works there will be lane and hard shoulder closures on the M56.


How will you manage traffic?

Traffic on the M56 will be managed by a combination of lane closures and 50mph speed limit.

Will there be diversions?

Clearly signed diversion routes will be in place during the closures of both Thorley Lane and the M56 between junctions 5 and 6.

Please note:  All through traffic (ie: traffic not travelling to Manchester Airport) should follow diversion route Level 1.  Traffic for Manchester Airport only should follow diversion route Level 3.


Diversion route level 1:  Using the motorway network.  (For traffic for all destinations other than Manchester Airport.)

Motorists travelling towards Manchester along the M56 eastbound will be directed off the M56 at junction 9 on the M6 northbound, to junction 21A, and on the M62 eastbound to junction 12. Motorists traveling to north Manchester and the east can continue on the M60 northbound/clockwise.  Motorists wishing to travel to Manchester can continue on the M602. Motorists wishing to travel to west, south and east Manchester can follow the M60 southbound.

Motorist travelling westbound on the M56 will be diverted on the M60 northbound/clockwise to junction 12, then westbound on the M62 to junction 10, and on the M6 southbound to junction 20 to re-join the M56.

Diversion route level 1 map

Diversion route level 2:  Alternative Route using A roads.  (Traffic for destinations other than the Altrincham area should use diversion route Level 1. Traffic for Manchester Airport only should follow diversion route Level 3.)

Motorists travelling towards Manchester along the M56 eastbound will be directed off at junction 7, and right at the roundabout onto Dunham Lane, Woodlands Road, Stockport Road, Shaftesbury Avenue and Altrincham Road to re-join the M56 at junction 3.

Motorist travelling from Manchester wishing to travel on the M56 westbound will be diverted onto the M56 eastbound to junction 3 and left onto Altrincham Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Stockport Road, Woodlands Road and Dunham Lane to re-join the M56 at junction 8.

Diversion route level 2 map

Diversion route level 3:  A538 and Airport Traffic Only using the local road network.

Motorists travelling towards Manchester Airport along the M56 eastbound will be directed off at junction 6, under the motorway and left on to Runger Lane, which becomes Thorley Lane, and left on Outwood Lane West to the airport.  Traffic travelling to Manchester will turn right on Outwood Lane West, round the roundabout and following the slip road back on to the M56 at junction 5.

Motorists travelling from Manchester along the M56 westbound will be directed off at junction 5, left at the next roundabout and left into Thorley Lane, which becomes Runger Lane, and back onto the M56 at junction 6.

Diversion route level 3 map