Highways England has announced changes to the delivery of its a smart motorway programme, including delays to works on the M56 near Manchester Airport and the M6 between Warrington and Wigan, as well as wider technical changes.
The government-owned company said it plans to change the layout of roadworks to reduce the need for overnight diversions and finish schemes sooner, an increase in temporary speed limits to 60mph when it is safe for drivers and road workers, and three lanes will be maintained in each direction during the day throughout upgrades.
Mike Bull, Highways England’s smart motorways programme manager for the North West, said: 'We’ve listened to what people have been telling us about roadworks and have decided to reschedule two major schemes, benefitting drivers who use our roads to get to work and businesses who deliver goods across the region.
'We’re committed to the upgrades; we are simply changing the timetable for projects on the M56 and M6. We’re also reviewing how we carry out major upgrades so that we can minimise disruption as much as possible and maintain connections for drivers using the road network.'
Almost half of a smart motorway upgrade on the M6 in Cheshire has been completed, Highways England said, with a fourth lane open on both carriageways between Holmes Chapel and Knutsford last month.
The entire 19-mile upgrade between Crewe and Knutsford is on schedule to be finished by the end of March.
Work on the M62 near Warrington is due to be completed by spring 2020, followed by work near Manchester Airport when it has been completed. Work will begin as planned this autumn to upgrade another stretch of the M62 between Rochdale and Brighouse in West Yorkshire.
Other major motorway projects including a scheme on the M6 between Warrington and Wigan, will be staggered to start between 2020 and 2025.
Contraflow roadworks layouts - where one lane is moved onto the opposite carriageway with a temporary barrier between traffic - will also be introduced where possible to cut the duration of schemes.