|Via:||"Stoke D Road"|
|Distance:||18.8 miles (30.3 km)|
|Meets:||M6, A519, A34, A5006, A50, A52, A5006, B5045, A53, A527, B5370, A5271, A34, M6, B5078, A531, A5020, B5071, A51|
|Former Number(s):||A5006, A52|
|Old route now:||A51|
|Route outline (key)|
How many roads do you know with a one letter name? Well, I guess there are a few "I" Roads, e.g. the B1117 and one in Kilburn and one somewhere in Scotland, but the one I know best is the D Road, aka the A500 in Stoke-on-Trent. Until the war the A500 was the Finchley Road in Northwest London, but it was decided to extend the route of the A41 from Watford into central London along this road, so the number became available. It seemed appropriate to save it for a major project, and the D Road was the first project to come along in the 5 Zone which was considered important enough. It's your guess as to whether the "D" moniker refers to its shape (with the M6 as the downstroke) or whether it refers to the fact that D is the Roman numeral for 500.
Section 1: Stoke 'D' Road
We now have the description of the present Stoke-on-Trent 'D' Road 20 miles, 22 minutes
The D Road was planned at the same time as the building of the M6, and the first two parts of it were built to link the motorway to the A34 north and south of the city (or north and south of Newcastle, to be more exact). At first the three-mile link road from junction 16 to Talke Pits was numbered the A500, and the one-mile link from junction 15 to Trent Vale was numbered as part of the A5006.
Looking at a 1970s map of the Potteries, a relief road route is pretty clear: along the Trent to Stoke, then follow the main railway line along the valley that separates Newcastle from Hanley. Land wasn't too much of an issue (old industrial workings could be cleared) except in Stoke-upon-Trent itself, where quite a bit of demolition was required in the streets near the town hall, including having to reroute a river and canal and move some of the burials in St Peter's churchyard. The road was officially opened after this middle section was completed in the Queen's Silver Jubilee year (1977) and, not surprisingly, officially named "Queensway". The official opening plaque still exists on the Glebe Street overbridge, a stone's throw from the Civic Centre.
Due to lack of money, the two junctions in Stoke itself (5 and 6 on the list below) were built as future-proofed roundabouts. The Stoke Pathfinder project (completed 2006) transformed this section of the road, by grade-separating the A500 and building C-D lanes either side of the main carriageways for local traffic. The original roundabouts were destroyed (and the river and canal were rerouted again) and traffic-light-controlled crossroads built above.
So let's run through the junctions on the D road. The junction numbers do not appear on signs and are here purely for ease of reference.
Junction 15 of the M6 is a trumpet style; built on an attractive, wooded bend in the motorway, it should be approached with care, especially in the rush hour. Immediately you leave the motorway there's an island, where the A500 begins straight on and the A519 (Newcastle-Newport) crosses from north to south. Follow the A519 south to meet the A5182 for Shrewsbury.
2: Trent Vale
Going over the Lyme Brook and entering the City of Stoke-on-Trent, we come to what's normally called the Hanford island (although it's not actually in Hanford). Originally, and for many years, this was a simple roundabout junction with the A34. It's now been upgraded, with the A500 whizzing along on its new flyover. Indeed, until the flyover was built, this is where the A500 started, with the section to the west being the A5006.
This was originally built as another trumpet-style junction, this time onto the A5006 in Boothen, serving Stoke City's old Victoria Ground and the Michelin tyre works, with access off the slip road to the city's waste-disposal centre. When the new A50 was built, it was plugged in to the A500 here, leaving the old trumpet largely intact. The Britannia Stadium is a quarter of a mile along here - and the M1 is at the end of the road.
Originally three separate junctions, the Pathfinder Project combined them all into a single collector / distributor, with access from the A500 at the first end you come to. Exits onto the A500 are in the middle and at the end. At the south end of this junction are the to-/from-the-north slips onto the local road to Mount Pleasant (junction 4). Immediately north of this is the A52 with access to the A5007 and Stoke Minster (junction 5). The northern end of the junction is with the A5006, heading to Hanley (junction 6).
7: Cliffe Vale
Frequently called Etruria Roundabout, although not actually in Etruria, this is a GSJ with the A53 (Newcastle-Hanley); at this point the road re-enters Newcastle Borough. Adjacent is the former Etruria station, of which little remains even though it only closed in 2005. The National Garden Festival was held back in 1986 half a mile away along the A53; its site is still called the Festival Park.
A dumbbell junction. Originally built as a colliery access road, it now serves an Asda. In 2007, the long-disused original colliery access road was brought back into use and now serves as the A527 Wolstanton bypass; for many years traffic leaving the A500 at this junction had to return by the same route.
A GSJ with the former A527 (Newcastle-Tunstall), next to Longport station. Following construction of the Wolstanton and Tunstall bypasses, this road has been renumbered A5271 to the east (marked on some earlier maps as B5999) and B5370 to the west. An access road to an industrial estate also meets the roundabout.
The only brand-new junction on the D road. It is a trumpet-style junction onto the Tunstall bypass, taking the A527 north of the town and opening up land in the valley for development.
11. Talke Pits
A GSJ with the A34 (Newcastle-Congleton); there is an extra bridge over across the middle of the island to accommodate vehicles which can't negotiate the curves of the roundabout. A local access road to Tunstall also meets the roundabout.
A diamond junction for traffic on the local road between Audley and Alsager, the only wholly unclassified junction on the A500.
A GSJ with the M6 junction 16, where the A500 now comes to a halt for the first time since we last met the M6. The roundabout marks the boundary between Staffordshire and Cheshire. The B5078 (to Alsager) also has access here.
Section 2: M6 Junction 16 – Nantwich
So far, so good. The A500 is a beefy, GSJ'd expressway typical of bold postwar thinking. Not much of a view, but impressive nonetheless. But it couldn't stop there. The logical final touch would be to extend it to Crewe. In 1977 the main road from Stoke to Crewe was the A52 (now the B5500), and what a useless road it was. And it looks so easy: just plug that 4 km gap from the M6 to the A5020 at Stowford. Ah, but in Staffordshire they have men. In Cheshire we have, well, I spent a day once at Congleton Borough planning department, and, er, I'll fetch me coat… I was at school at the time, and my English teacher lived in Barthomley. His car had a sticker in the window that said "Save Barthomley", and if you look at the map you'll see he had a point. He did get some of his way: the new road was to be single carriageway (the excuse for this being that the A534 was to be rebuilt at the same time) and hidden in cuttings. A local road was extended to the M6 island to make an extension to the B5078, giving Barthomley access to all those lovely roads. Early maps showed the road under construction as the A52 but it was opened as an extension to the A500.
And instead of a direct road to the A5020, why not throw in a couple of turns at roundabouts? I know there is a railway line at Stowford which makes things a bit tricky, but I'm sure Telford or Brunel would've coped. And I suppose it did make sense to throw in a junction (at Meremoor Moss) with a new road to take traffic around Weston to Nantwich. So, to recap, it's now 1990 and the A500 has completed its journey. Not as a dual carriageway to Crewe, but as a country lane to Weston and some old bits of A52 to Nantwich.
But no, there's more! If the A500 was only taking traffic to Nantwich there wouldn't be a problem; it's home to only about 10,000 souls. In fact there's loads of through traffic across to Chester and Wrexham so let's build two more roads! The first stage was a Nantwich bypass (logically renumbered in 2009 as the A51), taking traffic away from the town centre and the railway level crossing. Around the same time they improved the old section of the road slightly by inserting an extra bridge over the railway at Hough. Then in 2003 they finished the £28m D2!! Hough/Shavington bypass from the A500/A5020 junction to the beginning of the Nantwich bypass at Cheerbrook. I wondered what was going on when I saw them digging a huge sandpit at the Meremoor Moss island – now I know. This road crosses the West Coast Main Line at Basford and there's a junction with the B5071 Gresty Road. They've also put in an extra roundabout to serve a rerouted A5020. Although currently it doesn't connect to anything and just serves to slow traffic down, the new Crewe Green Link Road (Stage 2), is to be built from here to the existing link road in the very near future and will be D2 at that !!
Now that the planners have seen sense and built this new road as a dual carriageway, one would think they'll surely have to dual the now-notoriously overloaded Barthomley Link section, which is carrying upwards of 30,000 cars a day. Plans to upgrade this, now the only single-carriageway section of the A500, come along frequently but never seem to get very far.... However, some relief is at hand in June 2014 in the form of an improved Jn 16 and its westbound approach involving the installation of two 600m eastbound approach lanes, and signalising the whole junction. OK, it's not the dualling that the Barthomley Link needs so urgently, but as the approach passes through Duchy of Lancaster land, its the best that can be done for the time being. (Duchy of Lancaster land cannot be subject to compulsory purchase and the council and the Duchy have fallen out over a proposed development on Duchy land)
- Roads.org.uk: A500
- Highways England: Public Exhibitions for A500 Etruria Widening (March 2017)
- Motorway Services Online: A50/A500
- The A500 Trunk Road in Cheshire (Basford-Hough-Shavington Bypass to M6 Junction 16) (Detrunking) Order 2005 - This order removes trunk status from the A500 between Cheerbrook roundabout and the M6 following the 1998 consultation A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England