27 November 2020

More Bad Road Junctions

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes, 16 seconds. Contains 2254 words

Back in September, we reported some of the worst road junctions you’ll find when driving. However, since then we’ve come across even more that’ll make your head bang in confusion or annoyance.


1. A55 Junctions 15 and 16

It’s never any fun to be whizzing through high speed roads and stopping suddenly at a roundabout. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens at these junctions. The A55 itself is a mostly grade-separated motorway-like road that gets you across North Wales, and is probably the second most important road in Wales itself next to the M4. So at first glance, it’s a bit bizarre the road planners would allow the road to stop at 2 roundabouts.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the result of bad planning. At this point, the A55 is right next to both a major railway and the Irish Sea, so a fully grade separated junction would not be possible without closing the railway. Like them or not, these roundabouts are here to stay.


2. M6 Toll / A5 / A5148 / A5127

The M6 Toll road is quite an intrusive road in its own right. Most of its junctions are awkwardly designed so a toll booth can be fitted onto them. The A5, A5148 and A5127 all meet at one full roundabout, followed by what appears to be a half-built roundabout.

On the full roundabout, those turning to join the A5148 eastbound must also stay clear of traffic from the M6 Toll also joining the road, the slip road for which joins the A5148 immediately after the roundabout exit. Those wishing to use the A5 eastbound, or M6 Toll westbound, must join the half-built roundabout, with the M6 Toll traffic needing to head down the A5127 (or the ‘Birmingham Road’), and access the slip road opposite Dobbies Garden Centre. For anyone wishing to use the M6 Toll eastbound, however, they must head down the A5, because there’s no access from this junction.


3. M60 Junction 26 / A560 (Bredbury Scissors)

This junction shouldn’t really exist, and is very badly designed. Its layout means 3 different lanes of traffic are trying to use the same section of road. Sure, there’s traffic lights, but this just means there’s always going to be a risk of traffic and delays. Additionally, though there is signage to warn drivers, its layout makes it so easy for drivers to accidentally go the wrong way when trying to access the M60.

It doesn’t even really need to be here, considering there’s 2 junctions close by on both sides. Both these other junctions are also less than 1km away, so it’s strange why the designers thought this extra junction was necessary.


4. M60 Junction 25 / A560

Two bad junctions in a row from the same two roads. For M60 eastbound traffic leaving the road, drivers find themselves on a large roundabout (the Bredbury Interchange) fighting for space as the A560 traffic tries to join the motorway. Drivers are subsequently made to join a second roundabout, now fighting for space against more traffic leaving the motorway from the opposite direction. Additionally, those joining the M60 northbound will find themselves joining the motorway in the fast lane.

It wasn’t always like this. In the 1980s, the M60 didn’t exist. This was the meeting point of the M63 to the south, and the M66. At this point, the M63 was meant to continue eastwards, and the M66 would continue south as the A6(M). To accommodate this, the motorway carriageways were separated to be used as slip roads, to make space for the motorways that would be coming. The large roundabout itself was intended as a junction for the A6(M) rather than the M60.

When joining or leaving the M60 to the north from this junction, take a look at the large unused pieces of tarmac on both carriageways built to accommodate the A6(M), and the unused motorway sign on the southbound carriageway.


5. Nottingham Western Boulevard Roundabout

To the west of Nottingham city centre lies Western Boulevard Roundabout, or at least, what should be a roundabout. It instead ends up looking like a roundabout that’s been stretched and squashed. Carrying both traffic using the ring road, and those intending to head to the centre, it dumps both traffic together. Additionally, for those unfamiliar with the roundabout, it can be very confusing figuring out where you should leave due to its unique shape.


6. M25 / M26 / A21

The M25 is London’s orbital ring road, henceforth it carries a lot of traffic. It carries the multiple tasks of carrying short-distance traffic, as well as longer distance traffic heading for the airports, the south, the north, even the ferries and the Eurotunnel. When you’re designing this kind of road, it should be essential that it remains the priority at junctions. However, here, this rule is broken.

Here, the M25 heads straight onto the M26. Traffic wishing to remain on the M25 is then forced onto 2-lane slip roads. As one can imagine for a busy motorway, this isn’t really ideal.

As usual, what we have now wasn’t meant to be the plan. Back when this junction was being designed, the M25 was meant to be the outermost of four ring roads (London Ringways). The M25 wasn’t even meant to be a full circle, so it was not planned to have another motorway heading northwards from here. However, once the ringways project was cancelled, the built sections of ringway 4 (M25) and ringway 3 (M16) were patched together to make one big ring road.

To add insult to injury, and to the frustration of many motorists, the M26 does not have a slip road to meet the A21 to the south. Between the M26 junction 2a (18 miles away), and the M25 junction 6 (pictured here), the 18 miles of motorway for westbound traffic have no way to leave it. There’s even signs on the M26 warning motorists of this. It surely shouldn’t be hard to add a slip road at this junction to shorten the 18 mile gap?


7. M11 Junction 10

If you’ve ever done an airport run as a taxi driver in the south of England, you’re probably familiar with this junction. It’s actually arguably one of the most brilliantly designed junctions on the UK road network in terms of how it tries to split airport traffic with everything else. For traffic heading from the south, there’s 2 slip roads that tunnel under the roundabout entirely, taking traffic straight to Stansted Airport. For traffic from the north, the roundabout splits into 2 different roads to separate airport traffic from other traffic.

You’re probably wondering why this junction is listed here since it’s getting so much praise. This is because the road still tries to juggle with too much traffic. It serves Stansted Airport, the village of Bishop’s Stortford, and Birchanger Green service station. The service station is often used for both a rest stop for long distance traffic between London and the East, and also as an unofficial bonus airport facility. Traffic queues here can become notoriously long, with traffic trying to leave the services often being held back and filling the car park.

The lesson learnt here is that in general, it’s not a good idea to place a service station on the same site as an airport, unless that service station is built for airport users only.


8. A406 / A118

The A406 is London’s rather infamous North Circular Road, the closest thing London has to an inner ring road. However, this particular junction is very confusing. From the A118, to access the A404, the driver must turn right down some slip roads before entering what is almost a roundabout. Drivers can head onto the slip road to the A406 clockwise, or navigate the almost-roundabout to the A406 anticlockwise. With traffic lights and frequent stops to allow for other traffic to enter the road, this junction is often subject to congestion.


9. A406 / A1110 / B1452

The A406 itself is known to be the most congested road in the whole of the UK. This particular section is the most congested part of that road. High speed traffic from both directions must grind to a halt at a set of traffic lights and navigate a busy (and regularly gridlocked) junction as they turn off the road to remain on it.

Unfortunately though, there’s no easy fix here. The area is already so built up that there would be no room to make significant road changes without the unnecessary demolition of nearby buildings. Perhaps in the future, we could see the road tunneling under the busiest sections. However, until then, we’ll just have to make do with what we have already.


10. Marble Arch

The Marble Arch roundabout is one of the primary roads in and out of central London. As a result, it’s frequently congested as a result of balancing handling local traffic, tourist traffic, public transport, and commuter traffic. It’s also located directly to the west of Oxford Street, which as we all know is London’s primary destination for shopping. Speaking of Oxford Street, however….


11. Oxford Street / Regent Street Crossing (Oxford Circus)

If you’re familiar with London, you’ll already know what we’re talking about here. Whilst there’s nothing particularly bad about the designs of the roads themselves, both Oxford Street and Regent Street are amongst the busiest streets in the UK in terms of foot traffic. Oxford Street is known as one of the most dangerous places to cross the road in the UK. The Oxford Circus crossing deals with incredibly high amounts of road traffic and foot traffic daily, so the risk of collision is always high.

The Oxford Circus Underground Station can be used as a subway to alleviate some of the foot traffic, but access is often closed during peak hours to ensure the station doesn’t get too crowded.


12. A720 Edinburgh Bypass / A7 / A6106

The A720 Edinburgh Bypass is near-motorway standard for most of its route. It directs traffic around the suburbs of the Scottish capital (it’s essentially the M25 of Edinburgh.) So, it seems a strange choice to have the road stop suddenly at a roundabout as it crosses the A7. The A7 itself is a major route into Edinburgh.

There’s rumours the junction is built on the site of old mine workings. If this is true, grade separation would be considered too dangerous, with the ground being incapable of carrying such a junction.


13. M1 / A406

The M1 starts and ends on the A406 North Circular Road. So you’d expect there to be an adequate way to join the motorway.

Nope! Instead of a fast, free-flowing interchange between the two roads, we’re stuck with two roundabouts carrying long-distance traffic, and those wanting to use the shopping centre to the east. Considering this is the main gateway into London from Scotland and North England, it’s a bit of a mess. If you don’t know your way around London’s complicated road system, it’s easy to get lost here. There’s no direct road leading to the centre from this junction.

As usual on this page, this was never the intended end of the M1. The motorway originally intended to go much further. When there were plans for an inner ring road for central London, it was expected for the M1 to terminate at an interchange near Kilburn. However, there had even been plans earlier on for the M1 to go much further, ending in Marble Arch (yikes!)


14. M606 / A6036 / A6177

This is where 2 major roads into Bradford meet the city’s inner ring road. This in itself isn’t really much of a problem, however the layout of this junction is extremely confusing. Should motorway drivers want to continue on from this junction, they may get the false impression they can continue on the motorway. However, that false optimism soon diminishes as the motorway joins with the A6177 Eastbound. What follows is a complicated junction at traffic lights, certainly not the way to end a motorway.

Once again, this is all due to the fact this motorway was far from finished. It was originally meant to go right through Bradford to the north of the city. However, when that route was cancelled, this is what we were left with.


15. A52 / A61 Pentagon Roundabout (Derby)

If you’re going to have a free flowing road over a busy roundabout, do it right!

For eastbound A52 traffic, they can use a nice free flowing flyover that bypasses this busy junction. For the unlucky westbound A52 traffic, they have to share the roundabout with A61 traffic before rejoining the A52 road. This causes a lot of delays during rush hour which could actually be easily avoided. Just build the westbound flyover to help alleviate the traffic! Would it really be that hard?


16. M60 / B5214 Trafford Centre Junction

When you’re the UK’s third largest shopping centre, you’re bound to attract a lot of traffic. The Trafford Centre is serviced by the M60 and B5214 and manage this through multiple sets of roundabouts and entrances/exits as you navigate through the busy shopping and entertainment district. It even has a nice slip road for Trafford Centre traffic to head directly back onto the M60 anticlockwise without joining any of the roundabouts, how nice!

However, there are a number of problems. Firstly, the slip road back onto the M60 is rather poorly signposted. This means you’re much less likely to spot it unless you’re in the know. Secondly, due to the many facilities here, it’s easy to get yourself lost unless you know where you’re going. For example, if you’re wanting to get from the M60 to EventCity, make sure you’re using a Sat-Nav. There’s very few signs at the junction to get you there.


M56 Motorway, Wythenshawe (1/2)” by Mikey, used under CC BY 2.0

Roadworks and traffic on the M90
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © M J Richardsongeograph.org.uk/p/3063209

New Oxford Circus X-Crossing” by Mike Roberts, used under CC BY 2.0


Image Credit: Google Images

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