|Distance:||3.3 miles (5.3 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
The A558 is a short non-primary A-road in Cheshire that links Runcorn with the A56 near Warrington. It is unusual in that, although connecting the same destinations, it now occupies a wholly different alignment to the original one.
Runcorn - Daresbury
It now starts at a grade-separated junction with the A533 at Astmoor, about a third of a mile north of its original terminus. The A533 has a TOTSO here, the west-east mainline continuing from A533 to A558. The A558 then runs as a dual carriageway for about two miles, partly passing through woodland, with two grade-separated junctions to give access to industrial estates and business parks. This section has an appallingly noisy road surface.
It runs obliquely across its former alignment and reaches a roundabout giving access to more industrial and office development to the north and new housing to the south. East of here, it becomes a single-carriageway, climbing gently for just over a mile to reach the A56 at a roundabout near Daresbury, birthplace of Lewis Carroll. This section crosses the old alignment through Moore, the Bridgewater Canal and two main-line railways, and to the south can be seen the impressive concrete tower of the particle accelerator at the Daresbury Nuclear Physics Laboratory. This section also includes an excellent overtaking straight entered at each end by gentle right-hand bends.
Although not a primary route, this is a busy road with heavy commuter traffic and numerous HGVs. It is perhaps unique in being specifically signed with a 60 mph speed limit for its entire length – part dual carriageway, part an "NSL" single carriageway that nevertheless is signed as 60. Another distinction is that at each end a new road sign wrongly numbers it as the A588 – which of course is a road in North Lancashire linking Lancaster with Poulton-le-Fylde and Blackpool.
The road originally left the A533 at a T-junction at Halton Brook, about a mile east of Runcorn town centre. It crossed the Bridgewater Canal via a distinctive 1930s concrete bridge, and then ran for a while alongside the Manchester Ship Canal, giving views of a derelict chemical works on the opposite bank that reputedly was used during the Second World War for the production of chemical weapons.
Turning inland, it passed through the village of Moore, where there was a right-angled bend to cross a railway bridge which was frequently struck by large vehicles. The Bridgewater Canal appeared for a while on the south side, and about a mile later it joined the end of the A56 Walton Bypass, south-west of Warrington, at a staggered crossroads.
When the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge was opened in 1961, the A533 was diverted along the new Runcorn Spur Road to bypass Halton Village and Runcorn town centre, and the A558 took over its former route through the town centre to meet it at the roundabout at the southern end of the bridge. This meant that the A558 had a TOTSO at Halton Brook.
The progressive development of Runcorn New Town and the Runcorn Expressway system during the late 1960s and 1970s meant that the old alignment of the A558 was progressively superseded by a new one. I'm not sure of the exact dates but the changeover was completed by the early 1980s. All of the road is now part of the Runcorn Expressway system.
The old route through the town centre has now become the B5155.