Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

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nick_dunn
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Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by nick_dunn »

Next month sees a couple of significant anniversaries on the Midlands roads. 1st May will be 50 years since the opening of the Aston Expressway from Gravelly down to Dartmouth Circus. Three weeks later on the 24th May marks 50 years since the completion of the Midland Links Motorways with the opening of M6 J5 (Castle Bromwich) to J7 (Great Barr).

I spent 24 years from 1980 working on the industrial estate next to J6 (Spaghetti) and a further 10 years down the road next to Dartmouth Circus.

Memories:
The biggest visual difference would have to be the enormous cooling towers at the power station site just east of Spaghetti Junction and right next to where I worked. These were demolished - I think in the 1980s. It was not possible to blow them up due to the close proximity of the elevated M6 which could have collapsed in the explosion. So the towers were dismantled brick by brick over a period of many months and I remember the guys perched right at the top of the towers, seemingly with no safety gear, happily singing their hearts out as they heaved the rubble down from the top!
Pic of towers.

The building of Star City leisure complex on the power station site which eventually provided me with a new access to Gravelly Industrial Park.

The Aston Villa FC floodlights in the days when they were on columns with the lights on each corner in their 'A V' shapes.

The petrol tanker which caught fire in August 1990 just about here. This was a big deal at the time - the fire was so severe that this deck and the deck above had to be demolished and rebuilt. It took exactly a year before reopening leaving Salford Circus roundabout and surrounding roads a complete nightmare.

Looking out of my window at work at 5.30pm and despairing at the stationary traffic on the M6 and wondering which way to go home.

Walking the canals and river underneath Spaghetti and watching all the filthy water coming down from the road decks above!

Happy days. Might pop back for a reminisce!
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Bryn666 »

I defy even the most anti-roads person in the country to say the engineering that went into this single interchange is some of the most impressive we've had in centuries. It's just a pity the concrete was crud really.

You look at free-flow interchanges abroad and from above they look hideous, but Gravelly Hill is all graceful curves and swooping mainlines. Someone really, really cared about their work when designing it.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Ross Spur »

Thanks for highlighting these Anniversaries. Viking Tours of Burton-upon-Trent ran a coach trip to Spaghetti Junction on the opening day. Apparently, the driver had no problem navigating the junction but could not find his way out from the cafeteria at the Hilton Park Services stop.

The Birmingham Post's editorial for the opening of Aston Expressway was most lukewarm, citing that head on collisions and crossover crashes were inevitable with there being no central safety barriers. I'm not sure whether this was borne out.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Ruperts Trooper »

Ross Spur wrote: Tue Apr 05, 2022 19:44 Thanks for highlighting these Anniversaries. Viking Tours of Burton-upon-Trent ran a coach trip to Spaghetti Junction on the opening day. Apparently, the driver had no problem navigating the junction but could not find his way out from the cafeteria at the Hilton Park Services stop.

The Birmingham Post's editorial for the opening of Aston Expressway was most lukewarm, citing that head on collisions and crossover crashes were inevitable with there being no central safety barriers. I'm not sure whether this was borne out.
50 years without needing to be converted to D3M with central barrier suggests that the design principles worked
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Gav »

Bryn666 wrote: Tue Apr 05, 2022 11:49 I defy even the most anti-roads person in the country to say the engineering that went into this single interchange is some of the most impressive we've had in centuries. It's just a pity the concrete was crud really.

You look at free-flow interchanges abroad and from above they look hideous, but Gravelly Hill is all graceful curves and swooping mainlines. Someone really, really cared about their work when designing it.
wish there was a like button- that quote is so true.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Truvelo »

It's especially impressive compared to the original proposal :?
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Chris Bertram »

Truvelo wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 14:26 It's especially impressive compared to the original proposal :?
That appears to be missing the Aston Expressway altogether. Imagine the traffic that uses that coming down the Lichfield Road instead :yikes:
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Bryn666 »

Chris Bertram wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:26
Truvelo wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 14:26 It's especially impressive compared to the original proposal :?
That appears to be missing the Aston Expressway altogether. Imagine the traffic that uses that coming down the Lichfield Road instead :yikes:
Guessing this is because the A38(M) was always a Birmingham scheme so the Ministry probably had no desire to factor it in until their arm got twisted but I am sure Truvelo knows more.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Steven »

Bryn666 wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:30
Chris Bertram wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:26
Truvelo wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 14:26 It's especially impressive compared to the original proposal :?
That appears to be missing the Aston Expressway altogether. Imagine the traffic that uses that coming down the Lichfield Road instead :yikes:
Guessing this is because the A38(M) was always a Birmingham scheme so the Ministry probably had no desire to factor it in until their arm got twisted but I am sure Truvelo knows more.
There is also the unbuilt junction at Perry Barr to consider when thinking about what routes traffic would have used has the original proposal been constructed.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Chris Bertram »

Steven wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:35
Bryn666 wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:30
Chris Bertram wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:26 That appears to be missing the Aston Expressway altogether. Imagine the traffic that uses that coming down the Lichfield Road instead :yikes:
Guessing this is because the A38(M) was always a Birmingham scheme so the Ministry probably had no desire to factor it in until their arm got twisted but I am sure Truvelo knows more.
There is also the unbuilt junction at Perry Barr to consider when thinking about what routes traffic would have used has the original proposal been constructed.
Where the works unit is? That's a bit in the middle of nowhere. A junction with A453 might have made some sense, perhaps with limited access?
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Truvelo »

Chris Bertram wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:48
Steven wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:35
Bryn666 wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 16:30
Guessing this is because the A38(M) was always a Birmingham scheme so the Ministry probably had no desire to factor it in until their arm got twisted but I am sure Truvelo knows more.
There is also the unbuilt junction at Perry Barr to consider when thinking about what routes traffic would have used has the original proposal been constructed.
Where the works unit is? That's a bit in the middle of nowhere. A junction with A453 might have made some sense, perhaps with limited access?
Yes, the original plan before the A38(M) was thought of was to fully dual the A34 Birchfield Road to the unbuilt Perry Barr Junction so the original longabout at spaghetti was seen as a purely local junction. This map however would suggest the Perry Barr proposal lingered on after the A38(M) was developed and thus provide two high quality routes between the M6 and city centre. The abandonment of the Perry Barr junction may explain why the grade separation on Birchfield Road finishes at the A4040 and the S2 flyover being demolished may have been a last minute bodge to tidy the junction knowing a full D2 to the M6 will never be built.
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From the SABRE Wiki: Perry Barr Interchange :


Perry Barr Interchange is an unbuilt junction on the M6 in Birmingham between Junctions 6 and 7. It was shown on early plans for the M6 Midland Links but later dropped due to the extra traffic it would add to the motorway caused by short hops and commuters heading into central Birmingham once the A38(M) Aston Expressway had been added to the proposed motorway.

It was just to the south of the also unbuilt Perry Barr services.

... Read More
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by M4 Cardiff »

I know its a dailywail article, but there are actually some really nice photos of it under construction in the link below.

If you want to see them, but don't want to fund them by viewing their ads, use an adblocker.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... amous.html
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Truvelo »

Those photos confirm what I had suspected regarding the slip road from the A38(M) onto the M6 north. It was initially marked out with three lanes but lane 3 was hatched out very early on.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Bryn666 »

Always amazes me people forget there's a right hand exit on one of the slip roads, as well as some bizarre lane arrangements elsewhere.

Still a fabulous design. Foreign spaghetti bowls just look a hideous mess from above with slip roads going in all directions and no sense of purpose. This is compact and threaded perfectly.

How did we go from this to M1 J13?
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by fras »

Bryn666 wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 11:51 Always amazes me people forget there's a right hand exit on one of the slip roads, as well as some bizarre lane arrangements elsewhere.

Still a fabulous design. Foreign spaghetti bowls just look a hideous mess from above with slip roads going in all directions and no sense of purpose. This is compact and threaded perfectly.

How did we go from this to M1 J13?
And they managed to builds it with both a railway and a canal running through the work site as well !

Interesting juxtaposition of signs here !
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.50802 ... 8192?hl=en
I remember nearly missing the Aston Expressway ramp many years ago, as my eyes couldn't move away from the roundabout sign. Before satnavs, of course !
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Chris Bertram »

fras wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 20:04
Bryn666 wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 11:51 Always amazes me people forget there's a right hand exit on one of the slip roads, as well as some bizarre lane arrangements elsewhere.

Still a fabulous design. Foreign spaghetti bowls just look a hideous mess from above with slip roads going in all directions and no sense of purpose. This is compact and threaded perfectly.

How did we go from this to M1 J13?
And they managed to builds it with both a railway and a canal running through the work site as well !

Interesting juxtaposition of signs here !
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.50802 ... 8192?hl=en
I remember nearly missing the Aston Expressway ramp many years ago, as my eyes couldn't move away from the roundabout sign. Before satnavs, of course !
Yes, below the motorway is a junction where the Grand Union Canal, the Tame Valley Canal and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal meet, the last of these being the through route. Also there is where the River Tame is joined by the Aston Brook, and the Cross-City railway line also passes through. Quite a busy place, one way and another.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Truvelo »

I've walked along the canals under there and views of the viaducts is quite impressive. Just after taking the photo I was confronted by this couple of angry geese and had to charge my way past them whilst hissing and clapping :@
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by crazyknightsfan »

M4 Cardiff wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 13:28 I know its a dailywail article, but there are actually some really nice photos of it under construction in the link below.

If you want to see them, but don't want to fund them by viewing their ads, use an adblocker.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... amous.html
What is with the odd diamond lane separation markings?
https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2022/05/23 ... 913646.jpg
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Steven »

crazyknightsfan wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 07:02
M4 Cardiff wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 13:28 I know its a dailywail article, but there are actually some really nice photos of it under construction in the link below.

If you want to see them, but don't want to fund them by viewing their ads, use an adblocker.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... amous.html
What is with the odd diamond lane separation markings?
https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2022/05/23 ... 913646.jpg
It was an experimental layout designed as a non-mandatory "stay in lane" marking.
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Re: Spaghetti and Aston Expressway at 50

Post by Big L »

Steven wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 08:00
crazyknightsfan wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 07:02
M4 Cardiff wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 13:28 I know its a dailywail article, but there are actually some really nice photos of it under construction in the link below.

If you want to see them, but don't want to fund them by viewing their ads, use an adblocker.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... amous.html
What is with the odd diamond lane separation markings?
https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2022/05/23 ... 913646.jpg
It was an experimental layout designed as a non-mandatory "stay in lane" marking.
Streetview has the markings and signs there in '08 and '11 but gone by '15.
Make poetry history.

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