Alderley Edge Bypass open at long last

The countdown is over, almost a 100 years after the initial plans were drawn up the Alderley Edge and Nether Alderley bypass is now open to traffic.

The three mile route, built at a cost of £52m, was officially opened today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Two hundred guests, who have been involved in the project, were invited to attend the opening ceremony which was followed by a coach tour of the bypass. A collection of 45 modern and vintage cars, representing the decades since the initial set of plans were drafted in the 1920s, then took centre stage to drive down the new road.

After making a cut of a different kind, to signify the official opening, George Osborne said "This is a fantastic day for Alderley Edge which has been a long time coming. There were days when I thought it would never happen so I am relieved it is actually here.

"It is going to help local residents and I hope it will help the village get a new lease of life. This is one of the most affluent villages in the area but it has been cut in half by the road which carries 26,000 vehicles a day.

"It is also going to help all the commuters who travel in and out of Manchester, as well as AstraZeneca who employ thousands and are one of the most important businesses in the North West.

"It is a really impressive project and a result for local residents who have campaigned here since the 1920's. In recent years the campaigning intensified and the whole community got behind it. My predecessor Martin Bell campaigned very hard for the bypass and it really helped that the whole community wanted to see it happen. I remember a meeting at the local primary school where 1000 people turned up to campaign for it.

"It is pretty remarkable that the road has come ahead of time. This is a tribute to the people who built it. It is also quite environmentally friendly. The road is sunk to minimise the visual impact and keep this part of the Cheshire countryside looking great."

The ceremony was followed by a celebratory lunch at the Festival Hall. If you would like to listen to Chancellor George Osborne's speech at the lunch then turn the volume up on your computer and click the play button in the audio player below.


Councillor Wesley Fitzgerald, Leader of Cheshire East Council, spoke afterwards and announced that he is proposing to call the new bypass "Melrose Way" after Margaret Melrose, 85, who started campaigning for this road 43 years ago and was delighted to finally see it built.

A34 Bypass, George Osborne


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

Dennis Carter
Friday 19th November 2010 at 2:47 pm
2.10pm 19th. The traffic was flowing smoothly under the Chelford Road Bridge on a glorius sunny afternoon. However it was a great disappointment to find that the official opening was at 12.10pm and not at 2pm, as mentioned in comments.

There appeared to be some confusion with cyclists as to whether they should use the path which is signed for pedestrians and cyclists, or the narrow lane painted on the road way itself. This could be dangerous at night with no lighting. Already overtaking was in evidence, even while drivers were "getting the feel" of the new road.
Martin Reeves
Friday 19th November 2010 at 3:10 pm
Hi Dennis, the official cutting of the ribbon took place at 12 but it was not open to the public at that point. It was then announced at about 12:30 that it was expected to open to traffic about 2pm after a final inspection (which was the comment you probably saw). I believe it actually then opened ahead of schedule at around 1:30 whilst George Osborne and the guest were enjoying the celebratory lunch at the Festival Hall.
Dennis Carter
Friday 19th November 2010 at 4:41 pm
Dennis Carter.
Completing a test run of the Bypass ahead of the 4pm exit by Astra Zeneca, there was standing traffic out of Alderley towards Wilmslow to get to the Whitehall Bridge roundabout. An easy drive southwards on the Bypass was halted at the green footbridge towards Frog Lane roundabout. Progress was torturous with the merging of this traffic at the roundabout, with that of the northern exit AZ traffic. This in turn was held up by the traffic lights at the southern end of AZ traffic towards Monks Heath.
On returning northwards on the Bypass, as many of us suspected, traffic was now backed up to the railway, travelling south, ( time 4.05pm). No problems at Whitehall Bridge roundabout and back into Alderley considering the time. BUT, oh the queue out of Alderley to this roundabout. A complete reversal of traffic flows on a Friday night!

It is likely that "Keep Clear" signs will be required on both roundabouts, with a partial jamming at Frog Lane. Cars were even doing 3 point turns on the Bypass to get out of the queue. It might have useful for the Council and Police to have some observers out to assess the initial problems.
Anthony McCloskey
Friday 19th November 2010 at 5:06 pm
I think I was one of the first drivers on the bypass, got onto it at the Southern end at about 1310. It was unnerving to be waved through by the contractors and to see the "Bypass open" sign at long last. Nothing coming the other way but someone else was in front of me so it was definitely open!

There aren't any speed limit signs on the road itself (it has a 60 limit indicated at either end). I wonder if these will be retro-fitted later?

Can't wait for the rest of the works to finish at Monks Heath and Bollington Lane though.
Andrew Ashcroft
Friday 19th November 2010 at 7:44 pm
Well done to Birse Civils Ltd and local construction company J K Ashbrook Ltd.
Vin Sumner
Friday 19th November 2010 at 8:59 pm
I am sorry I missed the grand opening , had my placards all ready for our illustrious absent MP (except for photo calls )
Richard Bullock
Friday 19th November 2010 at 10:49 pm
To Anthony McCloskey re: no speed limit repeater signs

Roads subject to the national speed limit (i.e. 60mph limit for cars) do not need repeater signs if they are unlit - so repeater signs won't be retro-fitted. Lower limits always must have repeater signs at regular intervals (except 30mph limits on a road with street lights at regular intervals).
Gordon Hyslop
Saturday 20th November 2010 at 1:47 am
Its great that the by-pass is finally open, and congratulation to the builders and all those who campaigned for it over the years.

Unfortunately I believe that people will continue to use the route through the village due to the mess made at the southern end, adding two sets of traffic lights will result in queues at peak times along the by-pass and the old A34. Why not do a proper job and, take the by-pass south of Monks Heath allowing through traffic to join the A34?

A junction could have served traffic for AZ, Monks Heath and Chelford Road without any back log. Unfortunately this planning mess will mean that my daily drive through Alderley and down the A535 to Holmes Chapel will continue as I am positive that the time spent at two sets of lights will take longer.

I would also add that the single lane in each direction is also a mistake, like the rest of the A34 by-pass it should have been dual carriageway.
Jon Williams
Saturday 20th November 2010 at 9:43 am
Had a walk down the by-pass with the dog this morning, good access point from Chelford Road bridge, nice path down to the Wilmslow end, still amazed me how much traffic on the "old" A34 going in and out of the village at 9.00am on a Saturday.
I found some "bunching up" of cars - 6 or so, bunching up behind a slower one in front, maybe a need for some "KEEP YOUR DISTANCE" signs ?
Chris Howlison
Saturday 20th November 2010 at 4:22 pm
My wife and I used the new bypass this morning and we were most impressed. We would like to congratulate Birse Civil and Cheshire East on building the road so quickly and with the minimum inconvenience to us all.

The landscaping is looking good and will look super when it has a few seasons growth.

Alderley Edge will be transformed without the heavy through traffic. We look forward to Welsh Row reopening as we need to use it quite often.
Andy Dunwoody
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 9:51 am
Dennis Carter. Why is overtaking such a bad thing? A properly competent driver wouldn't need to 'know' the road. There are broken white lines along the length of the road too, plenty of vision due to it's gentle curves and straight lines, plus it's a 60mph limit.

The overtaking vehicle is most likely being held up by my second observation below:

Cars bunching up.

I feel this is due to the misconception that the de-restricted speed limit sign is often mistaken for 50 mph. So often every morning, I follow drivers who stick to 50mph along the A34 from Congleton to Alderley Edge and when I overtake them in a safe place and manner, they usually flash their lights at me from behind or simply speed up to 'teach me a lesson', endanger me and make me have to recalculate my driving/overtaking plans. Not a problem for me, but for other less competent drivers, potentially fatal.

Incidentally, these 50mph drivers think nothing of continuing with their 50mph speed through 30mph limits, such as Marton, and the AZ road works.
Gordon Hyslop
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 10:28 am
It's not the overtaking driver who causes the problem it's the incompetent ones who do not know the speed limit, having not read the highway code for years. It is not illegal to overtake and as Andy points out above can be performed safely and competently. Every morning I find drivers who haven't a clue how to drive, braking at any deviation in the road or when other cars come towards, them they also brake through corners instead of adjusting their speed before. Each morning I encounter a, woman driver who is an accident waiting to happen, she travels at 35mph in a 60 limit concentrating on smoking a cigarette with her window open wandering on the road her night vision is almost non existent braking sharply for curves in a road she travels every day. My bet is she will use the by-pass
Jerry Dixon
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 1:02 pm
We can be certain that the advent of a new road will not contribute to the improvement of driving standards in the locality !
What really is of interest, however, is how will the bypass impact village life ? The first real test is tomorrow morning's rush hour......
Tony Brammer
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 4:17 pm
I rode the new Bypass on the day it opened, great new stretch of road, well presented and well planned out. One end to the other and back again in under 8 mins 30 secs, without speeding.

I would agree with some of the other comments, it's a pity people do not know their speed limits, everyone should read the highway code, they're the rules of the road, if you don't know the rules you can't play the game.

The book costs £1.60 from amazon, that's less than a double espresso at Costa and money well spent.

Have a look at the video link
Craig Wilson
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 7:29 pm
I think it needs signs up to make sure these people know its a 60 zone. As for making it a 40 zone, that would be crazy.............spending all that money, and increasing journey times and frustration.

As for the bikes Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, another 3 today cycling on the road when theres a great cycle path, which has been added at great expense for them to use. Why not use it??? They cant all just be really stupid can they? Cant think of any other reason not to use it.
Vin Sumner
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 9:24 pm
Seems there are quite a few local petrol heads who claim to be the only competent drivers in the area; perhaps Oulton Park would be a better place to try out your driving skills rather than the bypass.

How about a car sharing scheme for the bypass; about time we - in this part of the world - did something for the climate - too many chelsea tractors :-)
Vikki Malcolm
Sunday 21st November 2010 at 10:26 pm
I haven't been able to use the new road yet, although I am looking forward to it! I think the test as Jerry points out above will be this weeks rush hour traffic. My suspicion is that at the Merlin roundabout it will be more chaotic than ever!

Re cyclists - beep them! I am sick of them not using the appropriate lanes, why endanger themselves and drivers by not using the correct path. It'll take one accident and then the road speed will be reduced like the A34 further up around Bramhall/John Lewis.
Jon Williams
Monday 22nd November 2010 at 6:48 am
Re. Cycle Path, in Belgium, if the road has a cycle path, you have to use it by law ! and I agree it's stupid not to use the cycle path on the by-pass, our club will ride the path next sunday at the start of our club run.
Vin Sumner
Monday 22nd November 2010 at 12:59 pm
Beeping cyclists is not a great idea ... can cause an accident
Andrea Steggel
Monday 22nd November 2010 at 2:48 pm
I was privileged to organise the classic & vintage car run at the official opening of the bypass last Friday. We had a brilliant day and the weather was very kind.

We had a good turn out for a Friday morning! There were 45 cars present ranging from Bond minicars to Rolls Royce & Bentleys. We also had a “Herbert Lomas” bodied ambulance built just up the road at Handforth and a Foden coach from Sandbach. The coach was given the honour of carrying George Osbourne & some of the dignitaries to and from the ceremony.

Most of the cars attending are owned by members of “The Beartown Classic Car Club” based in Congleton. I have already thanked Eunan Higgins & Wendy Harkin from Birse Civils, but I would like to put on record that they have done a really good job in very difficult circumstances and with a minimum of fuss.

Well done and thank you.
Gordon Hyslop
Tuesday 23rd November 2010 at 6:55 pm
Looks to me that due to the lack of junctions the by-pass has only reduced the traffic by about 50% Tried using it on Monday to get to Holmes Chapel and like I said earlier due to the number of traffic lights it took longer Granted when Bollington Lane is open that may help but it will still be the same number of lights almighty mess and where was the £56M spent?
Craig Wilson
Tuesday 23rd November 2010 at 7:29 pm
£56M was spent building the road............have you seen the price of tarmac these days ;-)
Vin Sumner
Thursday 25th November 2010 at 2:39 pm
A34 still seems pretty busy coming in from Wilmslow, other way has got worse.

Not a lot different at school times of course, maybe time to reflect on need for cars in the village, is there another way ?

The sign pointing to Alderley at southern end of bypass points onto bypass, am sure there is a technical reason but why encourage all traffic to enter from North with its complex set of junctions.
Gordon Hyslop
Thursday 25th November 2010 at 11:38 pm
At the northern end of the A34 extension there is a small sign "BYPASS OPEN" just before the entry surely it would be more beneficial to have a large sign 200 yards or so before the roundabout allowing drivers to make a decision Been waiting for this By-Pass for so long its time to shout out about it
Craig Wilson
Friday 26th November 2010 at 8:06 am
I just don't get how you can say 'not a lot of difference at school times'. It used to be complete grid lock at 4pm, with 10-20 cars waiting to get out at all roads leading onto the A34 near the girls school, and stationary traffic all the way to The Merlin. Now, you just coast straight up to the junction.
Vin Sumner
Friday 26th November 2010 at 7:35 pm
Well today at 415 the village was gridlocked , hope there was another reason.
Jon Williams
Friday 26th November 2010 at 8:05 pm
I go over the Brook Lane bridge each evening at 5.15pm and always have a look down at the by-pass, not busy at all, same in the morning at 7.20am.

Why is so much traffic still using the old A34?
Andrea Steggel
Friday 26th November 2010 at 10:12 pm
If anyone who has anything to do with signalling, reads this page can they please explain why they haven't considered putting a filter light on the A537 southern end of Bollington Lane, thus allowing through traffic to Chelford to keep moving when traffic from Chelford has a green light?

It doesn't make sense to sit waiting until the road is also clear for traffic turning right.

As far as everything else is concerned we just have to be a little more patient, it can't possibly all work correctly until all the road works have finished and drivers get used to using the new road. We have waited for some eighty years to get this far a few more months won't hurt, will it?
Gordon Hyslop
Saturday 27th November 2010 at 11:40 am
Jon IMHO a number of reasons Some drivers go around on autopilot, lack of signs to inform that it is open But in my view it is a road that is only of use to a small percentage of drivers who used the old A34 i.e. those going to Monks Heath or south of there all others will continue to use their old route. AZ traffic but according to my son its is no quicker. The road has been badly thought out especially the southern end as I alluded to above
Lisa Reeves
Monday 29th November 2010 at 12:32 pm
Dear Andrea

Doug Mackie, Project Manager at Cheshire East, has provided the following information in response your comments about signalling, which he assumes relate to the temporary arrangement currently in place.

"The current arrangement is temporary, all the signals within the Monks Heath Bollington Lane area are operating using interim timings and phasing pending completion of works.

"The A537 / Bollington Lane signals have to cater for all A34 northbound & A537 westbound traffic that wishes to head up the A34 turning right into Bollington Lane, in the final scheme there will be very little traffic doing this. We are unable to adjust these signals to provide the filter suggested, the only way we can achieve adequate capacity for the right turners safely, is to operate westbound and eastbound traffic at this junction on separate phases.

"We appreciate this arrangement is not ideal, to mitigate the problems the signals are manually controlled at peak periods. On a positive note, subject to weather, the works should be complete for Christmas."
Andrea Steggel
Monday 29th November 2010 at 1:19 pm
Hi Doug, thank you for sparing time to answer my question, I am not quite sure if you understood what I was trying to say! I was refering to the traffic travelling east on the A537 having to wait at a red light with the right turners when oncoming traffic is flowing east to west. I do appreciate the complexity of the work in hand and how much thought has already gone into it. It was more an observation than a moan. Thanks again.
Mark Russell
Tuesday 30th November 2010 at 12:39 am
i went for a run today and went from the centre of alderley edge at 1600 down to the merlin onto the bypass. I went all the way to the far end, where it was clear, turned around and came back. It was clear back at the merlin end, then i turned back onto the "old" A34 and it was total gridlock both ways right back through alderley edge. (it was about 16:45 by now) For some reason nobody seemed to want to use the bypass?? Nobody seemed to be turning off the main road they were all just trundleing along at 2 or 3 miles an hour through our village as if the bypass was not there??!!
Steve Rumsey
Wednesday 1st December 2010 at 9:30 am
Just a couple of points:
1. Why is Bollington Lane being used only one way? Why can't traffic heading to Chelford turn right on to Bollington Lane from the A34 instead of causing hold ups at Monks Heath lights for southbound traffic?
2. When the Monks Heath junction has been completed, what will happen to southbound traffic heading for Congleton when there is traffic waiting to turn right to head for Chelford? Will it become stationery thus negating the advantage of having a left filter for traffic heading for Macclesfield?
I am quite happy with the new bypass, it cuts out all the "stop/start" congestion through Alderley & now that the traffic flow at Monks Heath seems to be controlled better, the journey to & from work, between Biddulph & Cheadle Hulme, has become less of a hassle. Still a problem at the AZ traffic lights though. Does the fact that Alderley is still gridlocked, however, not say something about the cause? Possibly school traffic & traffic requiring access to Alderley itself & surrounding areas which are not served by the fact that there are no access & exit junctions from the bypass.
Graeme Simister
Wednesday 1st December 2010 at 11:04 am
At 9.15 a.m.on Monday November 29th, traffic approaching the village fro over The Edge was queuing from the old A34 up Macclesfield Road to the top of the hill. Similarily on the A535 Ryleys Lane the queue was down past Ryleys School almost reaching Chorley Hall Lane. The bypass has improved matters in the a North/South direction, but done nothing for East/West.
I understand why there was no roundabout on the A535 by the cemetry, in an attempt to prevent ribbon development along the road but a single slip road should have been constructed allowing traffic from Chelford to join the bypass in a northerly direction, thus avoiding the schools.
I do not understand the designation of the old A34 between the village and the Wilmslow bypass. Why does it have a different number than the same road which continues on into Wilmslow?
Vin Sumner
Wednesday 1st December 2010 at 8:59 pm
Maybe people aren't using the bypass at peak time because they are not bypassers

I have an office on London Road and during the day the traffic is well down, except at peak times which are still the same problem because local people are still using cars.

Never really did understand who a typical bypass user was going to be eg people heading for M6 from Wilmslow, really - probably got lost in the fog of decision making.

Worry that bypass legacy will be more development not less traffic.
Jill Millen
Wednesday 1st December 2010 at 10:03 pm
The penny has dropped! I've worked out why there are miles of high fencing alongside the bypass. It's so that we can't see how LITTLE traffic is using the road!!!!

Has it been included in sat navs?
As the only people I have heard using it are those 'trying it out'. London Road is still gridlocked every night and Brook Lane (which was once a quiet back road) is a race track.

Also agree with Vin Sumner that development is likely to be next on the agenda - and we probably won't have to wait over 40 years for it either!!
Craig Wilson
Wednesday 1st December 2010 at 10:38 pm
It will be included in new mapping as it comes out on new satnavs, and many don't upgrade their existing satnav mapping, so no, most satnavs will not have the road on it for years and years........but this is normal situation with new roads.

Obviously people use the quickest route, which at this moment in time, can still be the old road. This will change when the monks heath junction is finished, and the traffic calming measures get put into the town... until then, everyone can still moan moan moan ;-)
Jill Millen
Wednesday 1st December 2010 at 11:05 pm
I agree re the sat navs taking time to update. So if it is reliant on road signs then put them in the right place! The current road signs are too late for most people to react as they are placed right at the end of the bypass on a busy roundabout.

The closed and high fencing is still unnecessary and ugly - I know there will be landscaping but open fencing is much easier on the eye.
Jon Smith
Wednesday 8th December 2010 at 1:17 pm
The past few evenings the traffic travelling from Wilmslow direction through Alderley Edge has been just as bad as it was pre the bypass opening. I decided I could get to the far end of town by going down the bypass and making my way back up - big mistake. After sitting in near stationary queue for 20 minutes with all the traffic trying to get to Monks Heath I turned around and drove back up and through town - just as everyone else seemed to be doing.

So while all involved in the bypass are slapping each others backs on a job well done - maybe they should save the champagne until it actually provides people with a viable alternative to driving through the town centre.