A spate of recent crashes on a notorious section of the M56 have prompted an MP to repeat calls for it to be upgraded to a ‘smart motorway’.

East Runcorn MP Graham Evans wrote to a transport minister earlier this year to ask about the potential use of temporary electronic signposting on the stretch between junctions 12 at Clifton, Runcorn, and 14 at Hapsford near Helsby.

He said he had ‘serious concerns’ about the route.

Recent collisions on and around the J12-14 section include:

  • Two cars crashed last Monday after one of them braked to avoid hitting a Labrador on the loose near junction 10, Stretton. No-one was hurt and the eastbound carriageway was shut for 15 minutes.
  • A multiple-vehicle collision took place between junctions 11 Preston Brook and junction 10 Stretton a week last Wednesday evening, leading to a rolling road block.
  • A two-vehicle collision on the eastbound carriageway between J14 and J12 happened a week last Tuesday afternoon.
  • A car overturned and ended up in a ditch between J15 and J14 at about 3.11pm on Friday, April 1.
  • Two lanes were shut on the eastbound carriageway between J14 and J12 after a three-vehicle collision just before 3.45pm on Thursday, March 31.
  • A lorry and a black Renault Clio that spun on the M56 near J14 were involved in an incident, leading to the closure of two lanes, at 3.55pm on March 29.
  • Less than half an hour after the lanes re-opened at 5.29pm, two vehicles were in collision near J14 leading to lanes being blocked at 5.50pm.

Firefighters were in action twice on the M56 near Runcorn on March 21, first being called out to a car blaze on the hard shoulder on the eastbound carriageway between J14-J12 at 7.46am and then 11 minutes later they responded to a four-vehicle collision on the opposite side of the same stretch of motorway.

A spokesman for Mr Evans said he had contacted Highways England and transport minister Andrew Jones MP following a request from our sister paper, the Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News, over whether there was any update on a proposed study into the route’s problems and whether temporary ‘hazardous route’ signs had been considered.

Related story: Crash on M56 caused by Labrador loose on the carriageway

Mr Evans said: “I routinely use the M56, my office is just off Junction 11 at Sci-Tech Daresbury.

“There have been a number of serious accidents on the M56 recently, notably along the stretch between Junction 12 and 14 and I have serious concerns about safety along this stretch of motorway.

“This stretch is of particular concern as it is long, flat, and with very little technology or electronic signposting alerting drivers to potential hazards ahead.

Related story: M56 Cheshire junction weekend closure later this month

“There are four portable variable message signs being used at the Stoak Interchange to warn drivers of issues further up the M56 and earlier this year I wrote to the transport minister asking about the potential to use similar temporary electronic signposting along this stretch (J12-J14) to warn drivers of hazards ahead.

“I have always been clear on this, I will be lobbying for a ‘smart motorway’ with more technology and electronic signposting along the M56 – along the lines of the project introduced on the M60-M62 that saw over 200 electronic signs installed.”