|From:||Mucklow Hill (SO981848)|
|Distance:||4.1 miles (6.6 km)|
|Meets:||A458, B4169, A4099, A4100, A4123, A457, A4182|
|Route outline (key)|
The route begins its journey at a roundabout junction with the A458 and an unclassified road - and, of course, it is the unclassified road that is a dual carriageway. It heads north on Long Lane.
Since the road is in the heart of the Black Country, the scenery doesn't change much over the entire length; you're either driving through a collection of houses, or a collection of industrial units. Or both. On our way to Blackheath Town Centre, we pass a roundabout junction with the B4169, a junction known locally as Shell Corner. At Blackheath we must TOTSO to the right at traffic lights to avoid joining an unclassified road - this is the original route of the A4034, as detailed in the history section below.
As we turn right, we join the Blackheath Bypass, opened in 2007. This sweeps through a gentle 90-degree bend, and then TOTSOs to the right for a second time at another set of lights at the junction with the A4100. This is the end of the Blackheath Bypass - all 300 yards of it!
We head away from Blackheath and towards Oldbury. After passing a couple of traffic-light-controlled junctions with unclassified roads, the A4034 becomes a dual carriageway (and passes through another traffic-light-controlled junction with an unclassified road) before hitting the behemoth that is the Birchley Island - a roundabout junction with the A4123, a spur leading to the M5 at junction 2, and an unclassified road that goes to Halfords and Dunelm. Words can't really express how vast this roundabout is - it has a huge electricity substation on it - and first-time users will inevitably end up in the wrong lane around it at some point. Some decision points are traffic-light-controlled, but not all of them are, which just adds to the confusion.
The A4034 remains a dual carriageway as it leaves the roundabout, and we move from housing to an industrial landscape. We pass through a set of traffic lights and meet the A457 Oldbury bypass at a roundabout. We now multiplex with the A457 and need to turn left at this roundabout to continue our journey.
At the second roundabout from here our multiplexing comes to an end. The A457 leaves us to the left, and we carry straight on. Just before we meet the original route of the A4034 at a roundabout, the B4166 leaves us down a one-way street to our left. Interestingly, it's not possible to use the B4166 to make the return journey back onto the A4034 - with little warning, this section of the B-road is a no-through-road in the opposite direction, and an unclassified road has to be used to rejoin the A4034. We meet this road at the next set of traffic lights.
Our journey is nearly at an end, for after we pass under the West Coast Mainline at Sandwell & Dudley railway station and then over the Birmingham Canal we meet the end of the A4034 at a roundabout junction with the A4182. But this is a pointless end to the journey, because the A4182 only leaves the roundabout in one direction, so there is absolutely no need for a new number.
Blackheath town centre
Originally the A4034 travelled all the way into Blackheath Town Centre, going straight on instead of TOTSOing right at the new bypass. It met the A4099 at a roundabout, and then met both the A4100 and B4171 at a second roundabout, before turning right along what is now the final section of the A4100, and meeting its current route at the other end of the Blackheath bypass.
Oldbury town centre
The original route through Oldbury Town Centre is very straightforward: instead of multiplexing with the A457 as it does now, the A4034 simply went straight on at the roundabout, and came out of the other side of the town centre to meet its current route at the roundabout just after the B4166.
Into West Bromwich town centre
The reason for the A4182 not using the A4034's number is that the A4034 used to continue straight on at the roundabout where these two roads meet. It ended on the then-A41 High Street in the centre of town.