IT'S not often that roadworks get finished months ahead of schedule, but that is what has happened on a major scheme on the M56.

Works to revitalise a motorway bridge on the motorway between junctions 12 and 14 were made much easier as the coronavirus lockdown vastly reduced the amount of traffic.

Highways England was able to close one lane in each direction over Helsby Viaduct during the lockdown as traffic levels fell by around two thirds.

The extra space doubled the size of the construction area and meant work to install new safety barriers, improve drainage, waterproof and resurface the bridge could be carried out much more quickly than previously planned.

The scheme is part of £12 million worth of improvements taking place on the Manchester to North Wales motorway to provide better journeys for drivers.

Work has also been completed to install a new central reservation barrier on the M56 near Warrington and resurface the motorway near Ellesmere Port.

Mangat Bansal, Highways England’s programme delivery manager in the North West, said: "We’ve lifted the reduced speed limit over Helsby Viaduct after we completed major repairs in half the time.

"We’d originally planned to carry out the work using a contraflow system and temporary narrow lanes, which would have meant a reduced speed limit being in place until November.

"Instead, we kept two lanes open in each direction for drivers making essential journeys during the coronavirus lockdown and have been able to remove the roadworks four months ahead of schedule."

A scheme to improve drainage on the section of the M56 near Manchester Airport (junctions 6 to 8) is also due to be completed next month, ahead of the main construction work starting this autumn on a major project to reduce congestion and increase the motorway’s capacity.

Another scheme to repaint road markings and install new reflective road studs is due to take place on the M56 near Warrington (junctions 9 to 10) in August.

All the work will be carried out overnight using lane closures, with no impact on drivers during the day.

More details on the M56 maintenance schemes are available at