Improvements for residents

4 August 2011

A major improvement in the environment for residents living alongside the A556, in Cheshire, is on the way as Costain progresses work on preparing for construction of a new road.

This will be a 6.5km-long dual carriageway linking M6 Junction 19 and M56 Junction 7, on which Costain is working on an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) basis.

The new road is due to be one of the first major Highways Agency projects to go through the new Infrastructure Planning Commission process, which was introduced under the Planning Act 2008.

“A lot of people live alongside the existing A556. It’s an extremely busy road which passes directly through the villages of Mere and Bucklow Hill,” says Costain Project Manager, Richard Stuart. “It’s a fairly poor environment for the people who live there and by taking away the road from the existing route it will improve their living conditions as well as the safety and capacity of the A556.”

Additional benefits will include improvements in water quality to Rostherne Mere, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar site.

Around 5.5km of the new road will be offline, primarily through farmland, which will necessitate environmental mitigation measures including habitat provision and crossing points for protected species. There will be a small online section on the existing road, plus a new junction at its northern end.

As might be anticipated these days, the project is already being affected by significant cost considerations, although under the ECI system, an agreed target cost will not be put in place until shortly before construction, which is planned to commence prior to 2015. The Highways Agency (HA) budget for the project is £174million.

Even before Costain’s involvement the HA had to undertake a value engineering exercise to bring the project’s cost back within budget. Additionally, says Stuart: “The Highways Agency has been challenged to provide 20% savings across major projects over the next five years. We’ve been challenged with delivering the A556’s contribution towards that saving.

“Identification and realisation of cost savings will go on throughout the project, with an emphasis on efficiency measures above scope reduction; we’re working with the supply chain to make sure the design is buildable and the most economic solution.”

Once the new road is complete the existing A556 will be ‘detrunked’, reduced to a single carriageway in each direction and handed back to Cheshire East Council.