The M56 motorway, also known as the North Cheshire motorway, is in Cheshire and Greater Manchester, England. It runs from Junction 4 of the M60 to Dunkirk, near Chester. With a length of 33.3 miles (53.6 km), it is often busy with long-distance commuter traffic towards North Wales. It serves commuters heading to Manchester, particularly those from the wider Cheshire area, and gives access to Manchester Airport from the national motorway network.
Although the main line of the motorway starts as a continuation of the A5103 Princess Parkway, the M56 begins on Sharston Spur (also known as the Sharston Bypass) where it detaches from the M60 motorway. After passing through junctions 1 and 2, the spur joins the main line at junction 3, increasing from two lanes to four to accommodate Manchester Airport traffic.
The road then heads south to the west of Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport until it reaches junction 6, where it turns west. It runs to the south of Hale, reducing to three lanes. It passes junctions 7 and 8 which are part of the same complex. Junction 8 was planned to be used by the proposed A556(M). Current proposals are to upgrade the A556 to a dual carriageway. Traffic for the southbound M6 leaves here and so the junction can suffer from congestion. The motorway then enters a more rural setting between Broomedge and High Legh.
After meeting the M6 motorway, it passes south of Appleton Thorn. After reaching junction 11, it runs through the outskirts of Runcorn and Frodsham. Between junctions 12 and 14, and the missing junction 13, it runs parallel to the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. After meeting the M53 motorway, the road finally returns to two lanes, it proceeds between Chester to the south and Ellesmere Port to its termination at Dunkirk, Cheshire, where it becomes the A494.