M1 - A421 - A507

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Where is it?

Junction diagramM1 junction 13, unlucky for some. The southern of two M1 junctions for Milton Keynes and Bedford.

It was nominated by Chris Williams and Paul Robson, among countless others.

What's wrong with it?

In simple terms, the main junction providing access between Milton Keynes and Bedford (collective population of around 200,000) and London and the south east looks like this. It's a diamond interchange that's had a small roundabout glued on one side. It's so ridiculously inappropriate for the amount of traffic using it that visitors to Milton Keynes must find themselves looking further up the M1 in disbelief, thinking this must be a local exit serving a few villages or something. I'm at a loss to come up with words to describe this; it's just truly absurd.

Why is it wrong?

To be fair, the reason for this junction's sorry state is because the chain of events leading to today's situation is in an unusual order. Milton Keynes is a new town, housing around 270,000 people, which was only built in the late 1960s. This junction and the M1 itself, however, have been here since 1959. The motorway's planners couldn't have envisaged anything much turning off here — let alone 230,000 people using it whenever they headed south — particularly when even Bedford traffic was expected to use the A6 and junction 12 further south.

What none of this answers satisfactorily is why neither the designers of Milton Keynes, with its countless miles of dual carriageway, nor any politician since, has done anything at all to improve access between the new town and the M1. It is this fact that makes the whole thing so utterly shambolic.

What would be better?

How about a dualled A421 leading to free-flow links with the southbound M1? The good news is that the Highways Agency now (at last) have plans to do something, though it's taken the possibility of a new dual carriageway from the Bedford Bypass to here to make them think about it. What's planned? Two more roundabouts and a new flyover to the north to bypass the junction for through traffic. Genius.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go cry into a pillow.

Right to reply

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These are the most recent comments on this junction. You can see all comments if you prefer.

February 2011

Mike Wilkinson has seen his hopes dashed:

January 10 - yippee! Apart from a bit of remedial work on the northbound exit slip from the M1, looking good! Access to Ridgemont bypass improved and MK-Bedford traffic nicely segregated from J13.

January 11 - spoke too soon. They have now closed the old J13 bridge to eastbound traffic. There is a lovely diversion - although technically this should be renamed as a scenic route as it sends you several miles down the new A421 towards Bedford, round the Morston Moretaine roundabout and back to the Salford road. I fear some drivers are actually stuck for the rest of eternity on this diversion, as they miss the original signs up the A421, wander round the roundabout at the old J13, go up and down the A421, miss the Salford turn off, and start all over again.

December 2010

John Savill has good news:

After a number of complaints to the HA & local MP, the traffic lights on the Ridgemont A507 turn have been reprogrammed to make the right turn much easier. I understand the queues back on to the new roundabout that occurred when the construction of the new A421 was ongoing and after the new road opened are much improved.

It is worth pointing out that the majority of the traffic using this junction is actually going between Bedford and Milton Keynes (according to the HA traffic figures I saw) and this traffic now misses the motorway junction completely.

August 2010

Len Tyler is not feeling optimistic:

The Highways Agency are building a brand-new accident black spot at this terrible maze of a junction where the M1 and the new 4-lane A421 attempt to meet. When complete, traffic from Bedford leaving the new A421 at the exit slip to go south on to the M1 (via a new Magic Roundabout which joins the s/b M1 exit and entry slips) has to leave a 4-lane dual-carriageway and then give way to traffic on the unclassified road to Salford village!!! Motorists approaching from Salford, be warned; they’ll over-shoot!

Far worse however is the access on to the so-called M1-A1 link aka A507. The only way to get on to this long-awaited route is via a single right-hand filter lane controlled by traffic lights that are so soon after the new Magic Roundabout that awaiting traffic tails right across it. Try turning left here from Salford or M1 s/b in Lane One and, too late, you find that you have to veer across at almost right-angles to the end of the stationary queue in the right-hand filter lane. In the rush-hour, the queue in this filter lane blocks the whole Magic Roundabout. In light traffic however, fast traffic from M1 n/b and from A421 e/b from Milton Keynes has to swerve either side of you. You’re a sitting duck.

June 2010

Pigeon has a new idea:

The A421 from J13 to MK runs parallel with the M1 for a mile or two before diverging and heading off into MK. A quick win solution would be to build another interchange at the point of divergence thereby taking the MK traffic away from J13.

March 2010

Kev D is hoping and praying:

Oh dear god, the A421 is a nightmare east of MK. With this at one end and Black Cat at the other...all seems lost. There is hope, however, and let's pray the Highways Agency are listening on this one.

It's called...the A422. It's dualled through Milton Keynes, is rarely busy, and runs through a grand total of one village (Chicheley) between MK and the A428. Add a Junction 14A here, and problems with the Ridgemont Interchange *should* lessen.

With thanks to Chris King and James for information on this page.