CONSTRUCTION company Galliford Try has been awarded a £67 million contract for an M56 project due to start next spring.

The firm has been awarded the contract by Highways England to design and construct a Smart motorway scheme on the M56 between junctions 6 and 8 to the west of Manchester Airport.

Works include upgrading the road surface, barriers and drainage as well as installation of gantries, emergency refuge areas and technical equipment.

A start on site is set for next spring, with completion in about 12 months.

Duncan Elliott, managing director of Galliford Try Highways, said: “We’re delighted for this opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with and commitment to Highways England as a leading and critically important client.”

Congestion on the motorway and major road network in England costs an estimated £2 billion every year, with 25 per cent of this resulting from incidents.

Smart motorways relieve congestion by making the hard shoulder available for use by traffic.

On some smart motorways the hard shoulder is opened at busy times. On others it is permanently converted into a traffic lane - known as All Lane Running.

Regularly-spaced refuge areas are used for emergencies - driving at 60mph you will reach a place you can stop in an emergency every 75 seconds on average.

Smart motorways use pioneering technology to monitor traffic levels, change the speed limit to smooth traffic flow, reduce frustrating stop-start driving and improve journey times, activate warning signs to alert you to traffic jams and hazards up ahead, and close lanes – for example to allow emergency vehicles through.