|Location Map ( geo)|
|North Cheshire Motorway|
|Distance:||34 miles (54.7 km)|
|Meets:||M6, M53, M60, A34, A494, A49, A56, A5103, A5117|
|Route outline (key)|
Junctions 1 and 2 – the Kingsway and Sharston interchanges – are on what is generally referred to the Sharston Spur, although this section is considerably longer than the "main line" from Manchester city centre. The latter comes in at Junction 3 as a 900-m long southern extension of the road it was once planned would form part of the "Princess Parkway Motorway", although it never in fact achieved that status: the A5103.
The motorway's western terminus is an end-to-end junction with the latterly extended A494 at the north end of Mollington parish and immediately west-south-west of Dunkirk Roundabout (the former terminus, but now linked directly only to the eastbound carriageway of the M56).
Weaver Viaduct is one of the outstanding features of M56 and its design was approved by the Royal Fine Arts Commission. The three-quarter mile of elevated motorway and approach embankments over the River Weaver and Weaver Navigation Canal opened on 21 February 1971.
Chester services opened as a full MSA in 1998; the site previously was a picnic area. The only services area on the M56, it is off the roundabout carrying the A5117 over the motorway at Junction 14 near Elton.
- At junction 7 in July 2009, the slip road letting traffic come in southbound along the M56 and turn onto the A556 southbound was closed while the bridge where it crosses the M56 (the Bowdon View Bridge), which for many years had had a weight restriction, was worked on; traffic intending to use it had to carry on to junction 10 and there turn round, or go through the centre of Altrincham; traffic for the nearby simultaneous Tatton Park Flower Show, and the resulting closure to through traffic of the minor road along the southwest edge of Tatton Park from Ashley, Cheshire to Mere, Cheshire (which would otherwise have acted as a bypass for people living in the area), added to the resulting congestion.
- In October and November 2010, the bridge was demolished and replaced.
- On Saturday 28 February and Sunday 1 March 2015, the new concrete girders of the Thorley Lane bridge a little north of Manchester Airport were put in. (The old bridge was demolished because it was found to be cracking.) The M56 was closed over that weekend for this. This caused much traffic congestion from M56 traffic diverted through Altrincham and Styal Road and Wythenshawe and Kingsway, starting on Thursday 26 March because of work putting cones on the carriageway.