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|Birmingham • Evesham • Redditch • Warwick • Worcester|
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|Places related to the A46|
Stratford is known internationally as the birthplace of William Shakespeare in 1564 and draws large amounts of visitors from far and wide. By the 1930s the town was suffering from congestion, not only from tourists, but also because it lies at the junction of two trunk roads.
In 1938 a bypass was planned which would have ran to the west of the town starting on the A34 near Bishopton and running to the A34/A46 junction south of the river. The war intervened and put paid to the idea. A less ambitious scheme was planned sometime after the war which again ran to the west of the town and this also wasn't pursued.
Meanwhile traffic levels were continuing to increase and the town's narrow streets and the historic Clopton Bridge were creating a major bottleneck. The bridge is the only river crossing for several miles either side so all north-south traffic is funnelled through it.
In 1964 the Ministry of Transport commissioned consultants to sort out the problem. They produced their report a year later in which they recommend a bypass running around the north and east of the town. The route would capture all the trunk road traffic and it ran close enough to the town that local traffic would use in preference to travelling through the town centre. Predicted traffic levels warrants GSJs at the main junctions but the A46 from Warwick joining the northern bypass has an at-grade right turn which could be signalised if necessary. The entire bypass would lend itself well to being built in stages as requested by the Ministry. Stage one would consist of the new Clopton Bridge and the roundabouts at either end of the bridge. Stage 2 would be A46 to A34 Birmingham Road. Stage 3 is west of Birmingham Road. Upon completion of stage 3 the section between A34 and A46 would be widened to D3 by making use of the wide central reservation provided as part of stage 2. The old Clopton Bridge could be kept open to light traffic in the first two stages but would be closed to all vehicular traffic from stage 3 to prevent traffic short cutting through the town.
The Ministry accepted the basic proposals of what the consultants proposed in 1965 but made some improvements due to factors unforeseen in 1965. The M40 between Oxford and Birmingham was in the early stages planning along with the Strensham-Solihull Motorway. These could drastically alter the current traffic flows through the town. It was clear that long distance traffic using the A34 would transfer to the M40. This meant the north-south demand through Stratford would diminish and that the bypass should concentrate on relieving east-west traffic. The recommended scheme from west to east improves the Alcester Road junction by utilising the nearby bridge and providing a west facing slip. The Birmingham Road junction remains similar to the 1965 design although the flyover wouldn't be needed until 1985. The area between the A46 and Clopton Bridge was the main concern. The large junctions recommended by the consultants were costly and would dominate the area. Together with the planned M40 which would suppress A34 demand there wasn't the justification for freeflowing junctions so a roundabout would suffice for the A46 and another roundabout further south would provide access to the town centre. The bypass would finish at an enlarged Alveston Manor Roundabout as in the 1965 proposal.
In the few years following 1968 further improvements were made to the plans. Each time there was less emphasis on the A34 so by the early 1970s there was just a northern bypass with roundabouts for the A422, A34 and A46 junctions and a new Clopton Bridge. The A46 Warwick Road roundabout by this stage is now slightly further north which reduces the length for east-west traffic but makes the A34 route longer.
The plans of the late 1960s/early 1970s were never carried out despite housing developments on the northern fringe of the town being designed to fit the line of the bypass. It is interesting to note that the M40 was expected to open four years after the Stratford Bypass hence why the earlier plans containing better A34 movements were unliked by the Ministry who feared parts of the bypass would be redundant just a few years after opening. The town had to wait until 1987 for its bypass by which stage it had been downgraded to a single carriageway. It follows a route much further away from the town than the earlier proposals and reduces the length of A46, now A439, that would have needed improving between Stratford and Warwick. The M40 ironically did open four years after the bypass only it was nearly two decades late.
A second road crossing of the river opened in the early 1990s as Seven Meadows Road which runs along part of the former SMJ railway line. This provides an alternative to Clopton Bridge but doesn't bypass the town completely. This was later extended eastwards to the A422.
Several routes radiate from Stratford.
|Warwick, Birmingham (M40)|
|Evesham, Redditch (A435), Worcester (A442)|
|Warwick (M40)||Former route of the A46|
|Henley in Arden||Former route of the A34|
|Shipston||Former route of the A34|
|Banbury (A422)||Outer relief road|
|Bidford||Former route of the A439|
|Mickleton,Broadway||Former route of the A46.Low Bridge 8 miles|
|Birmingham||Now part of the A3400|
|Oxford||Now part of the A3400|
|Cheltenham||Now part of the B4632 following the re-routeing of the A46 via Evesham|
|Evesham||Now part of the B439|