Plans for a new dual carriageway linking the M6 to the M56 in Cheshire have been submitted to the Government’s planning inspectorate.
The Highways Agency received nearly 700 responses during a formal consultation on the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon improvement scheme last year, and several changes have been made to the proposal as a result.
The new five-mile dual carriageway would run mainly to the west of the existing A556 from Junction 19 of the M6 near Knutsford to Junction 7 of the M56 near Bowdon. It would re-join the existing A556 for a short section north of Bucklow Hill, which would be upgraded to modern dual carriageway standards.
The plans for the A556 scheme will now be examined by the Government’s planning inspectorate as part of an application for a development consent order. From Thursday (6 June), members of the public can submit their comments on the proposal directly to the Planning Inspectorate.
If the order is granted, then work on the new dual carriageway could start before the end of the 2014/15 financial year.
Mohammed Swapan, project manager at the Highways Agency, said: “We received a high number of responses during the consultation last year and, as a result of this feedback, we have been able to make several significant changes to the design for the A556 scheme.
“Anyone who lives or travels along the current route of the A556 will know it is heavily congested and has a poor road safety record. Residents have to put up with thousands of vehicles passing their houses every day, including a high numbers of lorries.
“The new dual carriageway would make it quicker and easier for motorists to travel between the M6 and the M56.”
Several changes have been made to the scheme, which is expected to cost between £137 million and £212 million, as a result of last year’s 12-week consultation. These include moving the proposed route up to 35 metres to the east of the original design at Millington to minimise the impact on nearby properties.
A mile-long section of the hard shoulder on the southbound side of the M6 would also be converted to an extra lane from Junction 19 at Tabley to Knutsford Services to make it easier for traffic to move from the A556 onto the motorway.
The current route of the A556 is often heavily congested, with 51,500 vehicles travelling along it on an average weekday. Just over one in ten vehicles is a heavy goods vehicle, and there have been 98 accidents along the road in a five-year period.