THE main construction work on the M56 upgrade in Greater Manchester and Cheshire will get under way this month.

The four-mile section between junctions 6 at Hale and 8 at Bowdon is one of the busiest in the north west, carrying 100,000 vehicles a day.

As part of the project an extra running lane will be added to the westbound and eastbound carriageways to tackle congestion and provide more reliable journeys for city centre commuters and businesses as well as tourists and workers using the airport.

Technology will also be installed to manage vehicles through the upgraded motorway - providing smoother journeys – and four emergency areas will provide refuge in the event of breakdowns or other emergencies.

Highways England’s preparations for the £85 million upgrade started in the spring, but the main construction work will get under way at the end of the month with traffic management along the motorway for the first time.

A contraflow system will be in operation from the start, helping to reduce the number of carriageway or full motorway closures needed during construction.

Highways England project manager Clare Bond said: “The start of the main construction work is a significant milestone for this project, which will ease congestion and make journeys more reliable once it opens to drivers in 2022.

“This is one of the busiest sections of motorway in the north west, but using the contraflow system during construction will allow us to keep all the motorway lanes open during the day with occasional overnight lane and carriageway closures.”

The eastbound hard shoulder will be converted into a running lane first, with work switching to the westbound hard shoulder late next spring, followed by construction of a concrete central reservation barrier between the three junctions from September.

Systems installation and testing after that should see the smart motorway to open to traffic by spring 2022 at the latest.

To install the contraflow there will be one full, 10pm to 6am, closure of the eastbound carriageway on Friday, November 13.

This will be followed on Monday, November 23 by a single overnight closure of the westbound carriageway.

The outside lane of the eastbound carriageway will operate in lane three of the westbound carriageway, with westbound traffic using the remaining two westbound lanes and hard shoulder.

A speed limit of 50mph will operate through the roadworks backed by average speed cameras.