MOTORISTS are being warned of further disruption and road closures on the M56 due to a major project by National Highways.

The main construction work in a £23million scheme to provide a new road bridge over the carriageway is now underway.

National Highways is replacing the A533 Expressway bridge near Runcorn with a brand-new crossing just a few metres further up the motorway.

Road workers moved onto the site straight after the Christmas holiday period to start building a site compound and install safety barriers along the M56.

The bridge, between junctions 11 for Daresbury and Preston Brook and 12 for Runcorn, provides a vital connection for people living or working on both sides of the motorway, providing access across the M56 to Runcorn from Preston Brook and Northwich.

It therefore cannot be demolished until the new one has opened, and over the next few weeks, bridge and motorway users will see activities ramping up significantly.

Kennedy Muzira, National Highways’ senior programme leader for the north west, said: “We are delighted this important project to replace the A533 Expressway bridge is now underway.

“This is a complicated and exciting engineering challenge for us, but minimising inconvenience to the thousands of people who rely on the bridge and the M56 for their journeys every day will be at the forefront of our minds over the next year or so.”

The existing structure was built in 1971 and is being replaced with a new 67m two-span concrete bridge, consisting of a single two-lane carriageway and a combined footpath and cycleway.

This will connect communities and businesses over the motorway and support investment in jobs and housing for decades to come.

More closures planned for M56 as main construction work begins in £23million project

More closures planned for M56 as main construction work begins in £23million project

Until the end of this week, off-peak stop-go boards are in place on the bridge itself for site investigations.

Work to install the temporary safety barrier in the hard shoulders and a 50mph speed limit along the M56 started yesterday, Monday.

Carefully demolishing the old bridge once it is sandwiched between the new one and the existing railway structure serving the West Coast main line is just one of the challenges for National Highways and lead constructor AmeySRM.

Major internet and water services – supporting hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses in Cheshire and Merseyside north of the M56 – are carried across the motorway by the existing bridge and are having to be diverted.

The bridge also runs at an angle across the M56 and the land falls on the southern side of the motorway, requiring a complicated design for the bridge decks and concrete parapets in the motorway verges.

This month’s work along the motorway includes nightly and weekend lane closures to install the temporary safety barriers along the eastbound and westbound carriageways.

The weekend lane closures will take place on the eastbound carriageway this weekend – Friday, January 14 to Monday, January 17 – and on the westbound carriageway next weekend – Friday, January 21 to Monday, January 24.

Overnight, full carriageway closures will be in place from 11pm to 6am, Sunday to Monday, between January 16 and 17 eastbound and January 23 and 24 westbound.

A clearly signed diversion will be in place between junction 11 and junction 12 using the A558 and A553 expressways on the Runcorn side of the motorway.

The motorway will need to be closed for two weekends in the spring and autumn for the installation of the new bridge and demolition of the old one.