Highways England blames “traffic sensor fault” on M6 for delays that hit newly-opened link road

By David Prior at

Highways England has blamed a “traffic sensor fault” for the long queues that hit the A556 this morning, just 24 hours after the new road opened.

The four-mile, £192m dual carriageway, which opened yesterday after a project lasting over two years, connects the M6 at junction 19 near Knutsford with junction 7 of the M56 at Bowdon.

But after a smooth opening day, many motorists’ commutes this morning was blighted by long delays.

Highways England say the delays were caused by a traffic sensor fault at the roundabout at junction 19 of the M6, which has recently been resurfaced as part of a separate scheme.

It explained: “The queuing issues commenced at the end of January when a large number of vehicles began to use the junction from the Northwich direction as a result of structural works being carried out on Acton Bridge by Cheshire West Council. These works are due to continue until July 2017.

“In February engineers from the routine maintenance contractor checked the traffic signals to confirm they were working correctly and extended the green phases to relieve the congestion.

An aerial view of the new Bowdon roundabout

An aerial view of the new Bowdon roundabout

“At the end of February the roundabout was resurfaced as part of routine maintenance and new sensors fitted for the traffic signals. This work was delayed slightly due to the storm that hit the north west.

“On the morning of Monday 6th March we opened the new A556 and to ensure that the work on the traffic signals had been effective we had engineers on site monitoring the signals. There was no problem with traffic flows around the roundabout or on any associated roads and the signals were returned to operate as an automated system.

“It became obvious during the peak periods of traffic on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning that there is still an issue with the traffic signals.”

Highways England apologised for the disruption and said that its engineers had identified a fault and were working on a resolution which would “return the traffic signals to full working order”.