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Route of the A57(M)

The A57(M) is better known as the famous Mancunian Way — an elevated road that has entered popular culture, forming a high-standard bypass for central Manchester. Much of it is up on stilts crossing over other streets.

There was a great deal of excitement in Manchester around its 1967 opening; the Manchester Evening News ran article after article on the 'highway in the sky', which was seen then as a major engineering feat and a very positive development for the city. In fact, when it first opened, the road wasn't quite long as it is now. The A56 and A6 junctions were both flat roundabouts back then, effectively marking the end of the road, and they were only grade-separated in the early 1990s.

Most of the A57(M)'s junctions are unusual and require care and attention, partly because the road was just plain-vanilla A57 when it opened, and motorway restrictions were added on later. Its speed limit was also raised from an initial 30 to the current 50 when it was realised that vehicles were capable of travelling on the road without falling off at this breakneck pace.

Popular wisdom is that the Brook Street junction with the A34 has a mistake: there is an unfinished sliproad leaving the eastbound carriageway to head north — though it ends in mid air because during construction it was abandoned when the contractors realised that it would carry traffic the wrong way onto a one way street. That's not true, of course, and nobody building a motorway like this would be daft enough to start pouring concrete before checking which way the traffic went on the streets nearby. In fact, there was a plan for Brook Street to be widened and become two-way at the time the road was built, which is a far more sensible explanation, if admittedly also less interesting.

The flyover across the A6 interchange at the motorway's eastern end is technically not the A57(M) at all — legal orders that apply motorway restrictions to it reveal that it's actually the A635(M), a secret number that doesn't appear on any signs. But for our purposes here, let's not be too picky — the world knows it as the Mancunian Way so there's little point quibbling about its number.


Start Hulme (A56)
Finish Ardwick (A635)
Passes Manchester
Length 2 miles
Connects to None


Views of the A57(M) from on and off the road. If you have a photo to contribute, contact me.


Heading eastbound from the A56, the road is three lanes wide and runs at ground level. This unusual footbridge replaces one of the road's original dingy underpasses.
Photo by Steven Jukes


On the two-lane elevated section over the A5103 junction, the road twists around. This is the 'highway in the sky' that the MEN used to talk about - we're roughly at rooftop level with the buildings around us.
Photo by Steven Jukes


The London Road flyover crossing the A6. The road drops to ground level before the flyover scoops it up again over quite a steep hump-back. The flyover appeared in about 1994 and is therefore newer than most of the rest of the road.
Photo by Steven Jukes


This plaque, mounted in the middle of one of the road's roundabouts, commemorates the opening of the Mancunian Way in 1967 by Harold Wilson. A recent, less durable addition reads "coming soon to this location: charming ruins". It was probably not put there by a fan of sixties architecture.

Construction Timeline

When the various parts of the A57(M) were built, listed in chronological order.

Open Jct Section
Mar1967 Entire motorway

Exit List

All the junctions and destinations along the route.

NB: Although almost the entire A57(M) route is elevated, junctions are shown above the motorway to make them easier to see.

Junction   Westbound               Eastbound
(M60 Link, M62 Link)
A57 (M602 Link)
Sale A56


A57 (M602)
Chester Road (Non-standard interchange)

N/A More information about this junction
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesSignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesSignsSigns
0.75 miles, 3 lanes Up   Down 0.75 miles, 3 lanes
Didsbury A5103
Chester, M'cr Airport
Birmingham (M56 Link)

Princess Road/Cambridge Street junction (Non-standard interchange) A5103

Didsbury A5103
Chester, M'cr Airport
Birmingham (M56 Link)
More information about this junction
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.75 miles, 3 lanes Up   Down 0.65 miles, 3 lanes

Brook Street (Non-standard interchange) A34 University
More information about this junction
  Down 0.1 miles, 3 lanes
N/A A6

Downing Street junction (Diamond)

Piccadilly Station
Stockport, Hyde
A6 (A57, M67 Link)
More information about this junction
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesSignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesSignsSigns

With thanks to Paul Smith for information in this section.