Further delays as runway tunnel works extended


Motorists face another month of delays as work on the runway tunnels on the A538 is now scheduled to finish mid-November.

Wendy Sinfield, of Manchester Airport Group, confirmed at the Wilmslow Town Council meeting on Monday, 16th October, that the tunnels will re-open on November 15th.

The delay is a result of a van fire, which occured on February 28th, which meant that soot that was lining the tunnels had to be cleaned from the walls before paint could be applied.

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said "Although the damage to the concrete was superficial (matching the assessment made in February) the damage caused by smoke/soot throughout the fabric of the tunnel was extensive. Before the 'bore' could be treated with a new surface treatment this 'soot' had to be cleared. The machinery first deployed was ineffective and failed to remove the 'soot'. It took time to source specialist advice and locate alternative equipment and then longer than had been planned to remove the soot."

Work on the A538 junction improvement scheme to provide additional capacity on the road and improve access to Sunbank Lane is anticipated to continue until December or January.

Wendy Sinfield confirmed that traffic disruption along the stretch of road adjacent the Amazon and DHL warehouses will continue until the lights come down in the early part of next year.

She explained "The junction near Amazon was always planned to happen but when the site was built we didn't anticipate Amazon and all those people coming so quickly. So unfortunately what that meant was that the junction and the widening of that junction had to happen more quickly than anticipated so we anticipate the junction being finished in January, or it could be December but that sort of time it will be finished."

On completion, the road will be widened to a dual-carriageway and the existing Sunbank Lane junction upgraded to signal control to access the Runway Visitor Park and the World Logistics Hub.

Councillor Frank McCarthy said "We'd all be very grateful for that to be done as soon as possible. Coming out of Wilmslow the actual queue starts from Wilmslow, the other day I measured and it was two and a half miles. I wonder sometimes when you get to the other end and you see a vehicle that says 'traffic management' do those people actually know that the queue to the right is two and a half miles long. I sincerely hope someone is telling them that getting out of Wilmslow is becoming chronic. "

He added "So I hoped we'd actually see some work going on there recently, after long periods of apparently nothing taking place at all, and now they are going to be working methodically right the way through to get it done as fast as possible."

A538, Manchester Airport, Runway Tunnels


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

James Lamplugh
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 4:53 pm
I would hope that people will be held accountable for the poor planning and foresight that has caused delays in both works. It does make you wonder what the selection process is for people in local planning teams??
Nasir Ali
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 5:13 pm
Here’s a solution: put more people on, work at night / weekends to get this done. It’s been well over a year.

If Wendy has been quoted, it’s a pretty poor response.

I not only blame the planning office, but also the council(s) as a whole and the councillors / mps that represent us for letting it continue for so long and with little information and accountability.

John Clegg
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 5:17 pm
It's high a priority project, you know.
A couple of early evenings last week, Thursday, and either Wednesday or Friday, there was no evidence of work being carried out.

Well, I say early evening.I meant late afternoons, - well, mid-afternoon: about 4.00pm on both occasions.
Michael Roberts
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 5:26 pm
Seriously This becoming a joke it takes 45 minutes to get to the motorway at the weekend!! next week church road is closed Hawthorne road closed and swan street no wonder nobody wants to shop or come into into wilmslow..
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 5:49 pm
Pass here regularly. Even todayvWeds always men stood around .Little effort to finish this job. Lots of barriers ,with road dug up ,been the same for weeks. How long does it take to spray the tunnels??.Its just the same on the New road from Hazel Grove to the Airport. Carillion main contractor, have taken over 2 years and not one part ,as tarmac to drive on.Govt now say Spring 2018 haha!! Should be severe penalties. And contractors taken off future contracts.Baz
Peter Evans
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 6:40 pm
Sunday afternoon, coming back into Wilmslow, we were delayed for over 30 mins coming off the M56. Total gridlock, total shambles. When we eventually got to the right turn for DHL and Amazon traffic, the traffic light for straight ahead was fixed at red. Now, I think that traffic light is redundant, there is no need for straight on traffic to stop. However, it was taking people ages to realise they had to go through on red...
So, where were the contractors to resolve the problem? why hadn't they checked the operation before the departed? and why had wasn't there a shift working mid afternoon if this is meant to be a high priority project?
And who is holding these contractors to account...? Certainly our delightful CEC don't seem to give a stuff. But then, I would not expect anything else. Deplorable, useless people.
Richard Bullock
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 8:56 pm
Barry Stafford: Probably worth pointing out that in major road construction - the tarmac going down is a good sign that the road is getting close to opening. It usually starts quite late in the process. For the Airport-Hazel Grove road, surfacing is due to start in November, at least on the Handforth - Airport bit.

Peter Evans: The Amazon traffic lights are in Manchester City Council's area, not CEC.
Peter Evans
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 9:43 pm
Okay, point taken, but CEC should be looking after its residents interests
Malcolm Elliott
Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 10:59 pm
Whilst this whole fiasco has long since got well out of hand and made many people's lives an absolute misery we all have a lot to be grateful for. Had these employees of the councils
been doing proper jobs requiring foresight,ability,skill and responsibility they would have been causing national disasters and killing people on a daily basis. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Stephen Hunter
Thursday 19th October 2017 at 7:33 am
At least there is light at the end of the tunnel...oh no wait it is still in complete darkness.
Steve Connor
Thursday 19th October 2017 at 7:45 am
The local Council should be embarrassed to have a department called Planning! Amazon and others built new premises but 'Nobody knew how quickly they were going to move in or in what capacity?' Obviously, it makes perfect sense to refurbish the airport tunnels (which clearly could of waited) at exactly the same time as carrying out major road works. Oh - not to mention that there is now further upheaval pending by replacing electricity mains in the town centre. What a pleasant drive it is through a lovely town such as Wilmslow.
Alan Brough
Thursday 19th October 2017 at 12:27 pm
So, the pain will intensify after November 15th when the tunnels re-open.

Then, as now, we will queue through the tunnel to get to the M56 but will have the added irritation of drivers overtaking us through the tunnel to "merge" as the road becomes single carriageway........cant wait!
Brian Tickner
Thursday 19th October 2017 at 12:51 pm
How many more times are your correspondents going to blame Cheshire East for the incompetent Traffic Management arrangements made by Manchester City Council and Stockport Borough Council?
Raymond Walker
Thursday 19th October 2017 at 12:52 pm
Have most of the above commentators missed a point?
I am very pleased about the temporary single lane road because it is infuriating at peak hour when many overtake in the tunnel hoping to push in at the other end instead of queuing like the rest. Some of us wrongly straddle the lanes to kerb their selfishness and make them wait their turn.
This now requires all to formally queue. The problem is the Amazon lights and a wider filter junction could be made at Amsxon’s Expense. Do they pay fair taxes to the UK yet? If so I may use them.
Raymond Walker
Dave Cash
Friday 20th October 2017 at 12:05 am
Even when the tunnel works are completed, commuters will eventually be faced with 2 new sets of perm TLs (Amazon & Airport viewing centre) and road widening work for several months.
Ms. Sinfield did not mention the planned extension of runway operating times.