A1 - B1081
Where is it?
The southern end of the Stamford Bypass, where the A1 branches away from its historic line and the old road continues into town as the B1081.
It was spotted by Brendan Barnes.
What's wrong with it?
As junctions on the A1 go, this is far from the worst. It has a flyover, which puts it leagues ahead of many of the most dangerous junctions on this long and highly variable route. In fact, compared to something like the notorious old crossroads at Rainham, for example, it's beginning to look quite wonderful.
It doesn't even fare too badly when compared only to other grade-separated junctions on the A1. Okay, so it has several very tight corners on it, some of which (like the southbound on-slip) could, arguably, have been built without quite so many twists and turns. The acceleration lanes to join the A1 are incredibly short — but none of that makes it different to the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of nasty little flyover junctions built during the 1960s to much lower design standards than we have today.
What makes Carpenter's Lodge so deserving of its place here is that it's brand new, opened in 2009 as part of a scheme to remove all the roundabouts between Peterborough and Doncaster. There used to be a roundabout here, you see, and now there's this. I'm not yet convinced that this is an overall improvement.
Why is it wrong?
It's hard to say. Even by the design standards of the early 1960s this would be a bit tight, but then the Stamford Bypass itself was an experimental road designed in the late 1950s, and opened in about 1961, and the junctions on that road (that is to say, the junctions immediately to the north of this one) are all much better designed and have far more generous acceleration lanes and curves.
The new-look Carpenter's Lodge might be fine if it was some tiny local access point — it follows the design rules for a "compact grade-separated junction", which is to say a flyover junction built as cheaply as possible to get local turning traffic off the main road. But this isn't the way to a farm and a tiny village, it's the main road to Stamford from the south — which makes this design seem quite inappropriate.
The junction is fine for the standards to which it was designed, but it was designed to the wrong standards, if you see what I mean.
What would be better?
Here's the thing, you see: it doesn't need to provide access to and from the north. The next junction up the A1 has north-facing sliproads only, and if you wanted to get up the B1081 from the north, you could just as easily exit there. So we can immediately scrap two of the tightest corners on the junction. Next step, smooth out the south-facing sliproads, returning the southbound entry to the line of the original A1 (clearly visible in the aerial photo), taking out the sharp double-bend on the northbound exit, and extending the acceleration and deceleration lanes as far as possible.
And then issue a written apology to the people of Stamford for providing them with such a poor excuse for a junction in the first place.
Right to reply
Hate this junction? Or do you think it hasn't had a fair trial? Make yourself heard! Post a comment.
These are the most recent comments on this junction. You can see all comments if you prefer.
Denise is braking sharply:
Well I live in Stamford and I hate this junction, and have done ever since they built it. Why didn't they combine the northbound exits to make them less confusing? They would have been able to allow more space for the deceleration lane if they had. As it is, you can't afford to wait to brake until you reach the lane, or you won't make it round that steep left-hand bend.
But the slip road onto the A1 southbound is even worse and the acceleration lane is practically non-existent.
Chris M has an idea:
As a partial solution, it doesn't look like reinstating the historic line of the road for the southbound on slip would require much more than just some relatively minor vegetation clearance, a good resurfacing, some line painting and possibly a new traffic merging from the left sign (diagram 508.1) for the main road.
sydneynick finds no alternative:
It's interesting that the "alternative aerial view" of this junction still shows the roundabout!
Andy Rathe sheds some light on the matter:
If I lived in Stamford I'd hate to use this junction to access all points South! It's the junction where I most frequently see cars trapped at the end of the southbound on-slip, having failed to find a gap in which to merge.
As for who would use the junction to turn round to head South, residents of Wittering village and RAF Wittering would, as both can only directly access the northbound A1. Indeed, the number of people U-turning was one of the reason southbound traffic queued at the old roundabout.
One word about the north-facing slips too, it's worth remembering that the whole of Stamford is subject to a 7.5 ton weight limit for HGVs. I don't know what heavy industry there is on the south side of the town, but it's possible this was part of the reason for the current junction layout.
John of Chilwell took the scenic route:
Another thing about this junction is poor signposting.
Approaching on the A1 from the south, the Stamford sign appears to send you off at the previous exit (over ¼ mile before the B1081). So we had a detour via Easton on the Hill - at night, in the snow. What fun!