Preparatory work to install a new £5.5 million road bridge across the M56 near Manchester Airport is underway.
Thorley Lane Bridge, which crosses over the M56 just west of the junction 5 link for the airport, is being replaced with a new, wider structure which will carry local road traffic.
The new bridge, due to open next April, will also allow more room for extra capacity to be added to the M56 beneath it in the future.
The existing bridge – which links Whitecarr Lane and Runger Lane north and south of the motorway – has weakened with age and is no longer fit for purpose with a weight restriction on lorries, limiting traffic numbers.
Removal of the old bridge and installation of the new structure is set to take 11 months.
The construction of the new bridge will require at least two weekend and several overnight closures of the M56 between junction 5 and junction 6.
The project is one of 123 in the government’s £317m ‘pinch-point’ initiative – a two-year programme of targeted work being delivered alongside larger schemes and routine maintenance and improvements along the strategic road network.
The pinch-point programme, devised with the input of councils and local enterprise partnerships, is designed to help stimulate new development and local economic growth by improving road safety and tackling congestion bottlenecks. In all, 28 projects, worth £66m, are being delivered across the North West.
The new Thorley Lane Bridge is designed to help stimulate the creation of 3,000 new jobs at Davenport Green and Airport City by 2030 plus some 5,650 homes around Altrincham, Bowdon and Hale by 2026.
Alan Shepherd, the Highways Agency’s regional director for the north west, said: “I am delighted to confirm that work is about to begin on this new bridge. Our investment here will improve local road links and support landmark projects around the airport that are vital to the regional economy.”