Former Chancellor George Osborne opens new A556 bypass

By David Prior at

Former Chancellor – and new London Evening Standard editor – George Osborne opened the new £192 million A556 Knutsford to Bowdon dual carriageway today.

Osborne, local MP for Tatton, and Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan marked the project’s completion – on time and on budget – by planting a tree on the innovative Green Bridge which crosses the road south of the A50 at Mere and is a key feature of the new road’s environmental mitigation measures.

The new A556

The new four-mile road, which opened on Monday March 6th, bypasses the old A556 and the villages of Mere, Bucklow Hill and Over Tabley – providing a quicker and more reliable link between junction 19 of the M6 and junction 7 of the M56 for the 50,000 vehicles, including 7,000 lorries, which rely on the motorway to motorway connection every day.

O’Sullivan said: “The A556 is a key strategic route linking the West Midlands and Cheshire to Greater Manchester and Manchester International Airport. The old road was heavily congested and compromised by busy crossroads. This new road, built to modern standards, will provide faster and more reliable journeys between the two motorways – benefiting commerce and commuters alike.

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan (centre) with Osborne (right) and main project contractor Costain’s Darren James

“We would like to thank local people and road users for their patience and support over nearly two and a half years while we have worked to deliver this new road on time and on budget.”

The new road is the first major North West project to be delivered in the Government’s £15 billion investment in the strategic road network up to 2021.

Work will also be taking place over the next few weeks to complete the Green Bridge, providing connectivity over the new road for farm animals but also for wild mammals, birds and other animals. The Green Bridge is one of 7 bridges provided to either carry key local roads such as the A50 over the new road or provide a link to the new dual carriageway for local communities.

The A556 project in numbers

The new road, which has already scooped a number of environmental and considerate constructor awards – including a gold award earlier this week – has been delivered as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.