New pictures of an innovative ‘green bridge’ across the new A556 Knutsford to Bowdon bypass show how the project has literally taken root – providing a winter wonderland for mammals, birds and other creatures.
The £1.15 million bridge was one of seven constructed across the new £192 million bypass which links the M6 and M56 and opened in March.
Part farm access track and part wildlife corridor, the bridge, west of Mere, has been provided to maintain connectivity between habitats separated by the new dual carriageway.
When the new bridge was used as the site of the official opening ceremony of the road in March, it had only just been planted with a mixture of hedging and plants.
Now, 11 months later, the extensive planting has given birth to a verdant green border which is providing a safe passage across the road for badgers, voles and other small animals, insects and birds.
Highways England project manager Paul Hampson said: “The green bridge was the centre-piece of our work to ensure the new A556 was the most environmentally-friendly road Highways England has ever built. We are delighted the planting has really taken hold and we’re looking forward to watching the bridge bloom for many years to come.”
Constructing the bridge cost about £890,000 with a further £273,000 on ‘greening work’ on the deck, which included planting trees, shrubs and grasses.
Installing the green bridge was one of dozens of measures delivered during the 28 month project to enhance the environment or minimise the impact of the new road, or its actual construction, on its surroundings.
The old A556 has also been ‘greened’ and turned into a £5 million B road with dedicated route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders featuring a raised earth border, planted with wild flowers, to separate it from road traffic.
The project’s green measures earned it a prestigious Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice last year.
Construction of the new A556 link road, between the M56 and the M6, started in November 2014 and opened in March with the old road – now the B5569 - handed over to Cheshire East Council in November.
The scheme has been delivered as part of the Government’s £15 billion government investment in motorways and major A roads by 2021 which is being delivered by Highways England as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.