M1 - M6 - A14 Comments
These are all the comments about this junction, with the newest at the top.
Maurice Andrews approves:
Its about done. The A14 westbound is the 'main' road with the M1 north as a spur off. I have tried the revamped junction in all directions over the last few months and miracle of miracles it works. The M6-A14 east bound can be a little confusing but if you read the signs in advance it works. A great deal of money, effort and time but in the end worth it.
Further to my last comment - there are indeed two lanes for the A14 eastbound now.
The final result is excellent - at the minute, you can come off the M1 to the roadworks end sign (after 18 monotonous miles at 50!) and indulge in some foot to the floor action as you come round that wide, sweeping left-hander towards the M6.
In the annals of UK motorways, I doubt a junction has seen a renaissance quite as dramatic as this (although M6 J34 is probably hot on the heels!).
Hamish worries for the locals:
I wondered why it wasn't like this before but I noticed about a week ago on my new road atlas that it had changed. However as you pointed out, what about the non motorway traffic. Maybe there is another road being built that isn't marked for non motorway traffic. I tried to view this on Google street view but I couldn't because of the fact that (as of 24.8.2016) it hasn't been filmed by the Google video as so recently opened.
Maurice Andrews looks forward to the end:
Early this morning coming home after a long day's trip to Calais we were confronted with the gantry signs 'M1 closed junctions 18-19'. Ongoing works? Chaos for miles around with every local tiny minor road clogged solid. Home via M45 and M69. Soon the Catthorpe junction nightmare will end. One thing is pretty obvious, checking, as I do, 'Incidents' at Catthorpe there are far fewer and less dangerous. It is estimated that a road death costs about £1 million so I think the money has been well spent. Perhaps one day soon we can all raise our virtual glasses and toast the opening of the rebuilt junction.
Dave is excited about the changes:
I use Catthorpe to do M1-M6 and reverse seven or eight times a year. I went through Thursday and today, very pleased to see the new layout coming to fruition. Particularly enjoyed the northbound slip using the old on-slip from the junction, meaning you pass the M6 chopsticks sign halfway along!
One thing that concerned me on the approach from the M6 is the fact all traffic for the A14 has to get into the right hand lane. With the A14 being absolutely key for freight movement, is this not a bit of an oversight? I don't know whether this is a temporary arrangement during works and there'll be four lanes (two for each) in the final layout.
Still, you can't go wrong with a huge 3 lane carriageway sweeping gracefully over another motorway, like the new M6-M1 viaduct does. Looking forward to completion!
While the junction's still being built, any lane arrangements are probably only temporary. -Ed.
Maurice Andrews sees reason for hope:
Work continues on the much-needed improvements at J19. The east-west A14 goes under the M1 and joins the M6 north. The A14 westbound now has a direct connection to the M1 north. It's getting better all the time. Sometimes the junction is closed for works, usually late Sunday evening which causes some (not many) problems. The 50mph limit south on the M1 has almost all gone now.
Alex Smith is being escorted off the motorway:
There's apparently a plan in place for non-motorway traffic that ignores the warnings telling them to leave at junction 1 (perhaps due to some sense of entitlement to use the right of way) to be directed to a layby near the junction, from where they can phone the police to escort them to safety (perhaps through emergency access gates). Inefficient, but it seems unlikely that non-motorway traffic other than learner drivers (who can just swap places with the accompanying driver in the layby) will manage to make it 8 miles down the A14 anyway. (For example, the number of cyclists going that way is reported as 0 for every year since records began; admittedly the number is rounded (and thus could be slightly larger), but it's not going to be high enough to make a difference.)
In other news, this can probably be sent to Purgatory soon, because the new layout has started to open. There's currently a new 1-lane free-flowing sliproad from A14 westbound to M6 northbound (which has already made the junction considerably better). More lanes and movements are due to open over the next few months. (Once either M6 southbound to A14 eastbound, or every movement conflicting with it (there's only one left), have been sent onto new sliproads, the junction will be easily out of Bad status, and when it's finished, may well even qualify as Good.)
Has anyone studied the scheme plan? Where will prohibited traffic exit the A14 before the M6 slip road merges? Has there been an oversight by our loveable Highways England!? Where will the non-motorway traffic escape to I ask!
Non-motorway traffic will apparently be instructed to leave the A14 at junction 1. Don't panic! -Ed.
Maurice Andrews remembers a terrible idea:
They are rebuilding this junction at long last. One problem is the road works merge into barrier replacement and there is about 16 miles of 50mph restriction.
I can remember when the A14 was mooted. Somebody suggested (no joke) that perhaps it could be a single carriageway to save money. This was the origin of a truly frightful junction. I hope the M6/A14 east and west bound are finally sorted.
Fraser Mitchell has good news:
Well, I think we all know by now that the improvement scheme is under construction and this time it has not been underscoped, so will likely make a major improvement to this notorious bottleneck and accident blackspot.
The proposed scheme to do anything about this junction has now been postponed until 2015 at the earliest. It wouldn't surprise me if what eventually gets built will be a bodge job that saves a few pounds and will be jammed up with traffic at a standstill within a few years...
Eddie Lewis is stuck in traffic:
Revisited this junction today for the first time in a while. Still the same old story with traffic backed up onto the M6, weaving in at the last minute (how are people expected to see those "Get in Lane" signs on the hard shoulder with 50-odd lorries in the way?) and seeing the sign which says A14 is right, so get in the right hand lane only to see it merge into the left hand one a few yards further on. And coming A14-M6, the give way markings which oblige you to yield to tractors trundling out of Catthorpe are so faded that they're virtually invisible.
One thought - someone has mentioned the M69 makes the M6-M1N a rare movement; may I add that the M40 now does the same for the M6-M1S, at least as far as London-bound traffic is concerned. So maybe A14 traffic should get the two lanes and the merging movement, and M1 the roundabout?
Sounds like a recipe for complete and total chaos to me... Traffic between M1 south and M6 still outnumbers that for the A14. -Ed.
MackH could see it coming:
When it was first built, it was clear that this junction was going to be a disaster. It is an exercise in failing to plan correctly and to provide less than the minimum.
Boris has a novel idea:
On a good day (well, probably night) you could in effect travel from the extremities of Ecosse at speeds of up to 70mph, all the way to the southernmost furthest flung seaports along the Channel (or Wales.) However, where else within the galaxy could one locate the bulk of all ex/import traffic heading to or from the nations busiest container teminals, stationary, at one of the busiest crossroads in Europe?
Solution - seeing as most drivers crawl through the 30 or so yards between the M6 and A14, or are exiting either side of the M1, I suggest we take a leaf out of the Blackpool Corporation's book. If you have ever experienced the illuminations from your vehicle, you'll have noticed at either end of the promenade, a team of collectors, with giant plastic hands. The object being to retrieve any contributions made toward the upkeep of the lights. If every lorry driver bunged in a zloty or two, we might get a flyover by 2050, or some nice neons to while the time away.
Rubi Red writes:
I really hate this junction. I've always said an accident is just waiting to happen here and today there's been a 12 car pile up on the southbound M6 at Junction 1. I do this road quite a bit and the number of times cars and lorries that swerve into the A14 filter lane at the last minute is unbelievable. They changed the junction last year and made it 100 times worse, as if it wasn't bad enough!
Ducter is irate:
Often thought of renaming this junction 'Hades', I cannot believe the short-sighted view of government and engineers alike for thinking what they built would actually accommodate expected traffic movement. A split level three way junction was minimum - and please return the M1 south to three lanes approaching the junction, it only confuses Belgian lorry drivers and Allegro day trippers!
An anonymous contributor writes:
Coming back along the M6 last night and wanting to take the A14 (an excellent road by the way). In the short 1/2hr while I was waiting in the slow lane of the M6, I saw no less than 15 near misses as people tried to get in the queue late. I suspect that there is a lot of luck here that more poeple don't cause accidents.
Emma Bennett has experienced the danger of this junction:
I wrote off my first car, a Vauxhall Astra, at this junction in 2003 - I was shunted by a container lorry as I was trying to change lanes from the M1 filter to the A14 lane. Had anything been ahead of me, I could well have been badly hurt, but as it was, I was bounced off another lorry in the adjacent lane and ended up in the hard shoulder just short of hitting a chevron sign. I'd only been driving for a few months, and the whole experience put me off for a long while after.
Tom Yarwood considers it a prize winner:
Is it just a co-incidence that the Catthorpe interchange is first on your list of bad junctions? In this Olympic year  it gets my gold medal award scoring well on inelegance and inadequacy. It's the epitome of what is wrong with our 'get away with the minimum' attitude to transport infrastructure. Sadly the London Olymics will have passed before this junction is improved to the standard it should have been made to in 1994. Despite never having used it, the winner in the sheer clumsyness catagory has to be Switch Island and I take your word for it that is overloaded so it gets my silver. As the Olympic triumph was by 'Team GB' I cannot leave out Scotland and having been held up for 40 mins there the Sheriffhall roundabout on the A720 should get the bronze, if only it had a flyover to hang it from.
Jake Stevenson writes:
Total killer junction; endless carnage and delays because the government built it on the cheap. The Highways Agency are only just showing plans locally and then there will be years of enquiries. Many more fatals before then I fear.
Jim Higgs is desperate:
I don't have any ideas for altering this junction, I only know something needs to be done and quickly. I came down the M6 today and got off onto the A14. The queue on the A14 slip road stretched back almost onto the M6. In the few minutes I waited several cars joined the slip road far too late and in front of me when I thought I'd got on at the back of the queue. They had to force their way in. Fortunately the lorry in front of me had left a reasonable gap between himself and the vehicle in front but when three cars one behind the other tried to get in, the back offside corners of these cars were left sticking out onto the inside lane of the M6 with lorries missing them by inches. With cars in the outside lane of the M6 the lorries have nowhere to go. One large lorry attempted an emergency stop before his momentum took him just past the tail end of the cars. What on earth do they think they're doing! Most of them wouldn't say boo to a goose but put them in a car and they think they're on a mission worth risking the lives of they're families, they're selves and everyone else! Unbelievable.
Dave Hinton is counting his blessings:
Short Memories! Cast your minds back to those heady days before Catthorpe junction; the only way to get to Rugby/M6 from M1S would be to go the long way down M69/A5 or M1 J20 and rattle along A426 to reach A5/M6. Catthorpe may not be perfect but it achieves (after a fashion) an easier link. And don't knock A14; this country is obsessed with getting N-S with scant regard to those wanting to go E-W...
Oluwasegun Akin-Olugbade has experienced the problems first hand:
I crashed yesterday at the junction to Catthorpe. I was coming from the A14, and someone pulled out from the road coming from Catthorpe to go towards the M1 or A14. Even though it is solely the other guy's fault, I think a roundabout at that junction would have reduced my speed and helped me avoid the write off and insurance trouble I now have to deal with.
An anonymous contributor wins the prize for most unusual diversion route:
I'm so glad it's not just me! On my first run as a navigator coming down the M6 and heading to Cambridge, this junction had us going round in circles for about fifteen minutes trying to figure out what to do about it. Then we discovered the A14 was shut. Yay, incomprehensible diversion signs!
On the up side, I suspect I may be the first navigator to successfully include Northampton town centre on this particular route.
Steve Saul isn't happy either:
This junction is indeed a nightmare built on the cheap. I used to use it every week or so and I feel that when they carried out the alterations they shifted the problem from one side to another. With the old layout traffic coming off the M6 south going toward the A14 east had to firstly pause at the westernmost roundabout (for A14 west to M1 north traffic passing round) then filter into the single eastbound lane underneath the M1 to get to the A14. This resulted in queues back up on to the M6. Westbound traffic off the A14 however had a freeflow onto the east roundabout and through the bridge under the M1 to either the M6 or M1 north. Now the westbound traffic off the A14 and is stopped by traffic lights and the queues can go back for a mile on occasions.
Jon Robinson has had a hard time:
A few years ago travelling east on M6 wanting to join A14 to get to Norwich I missed the left slip, and had to carry on down, join the M1, take the next junction, off and back on M1, then up and back onto M6, then off at the first M6 junction, round and back onto M6 again. It would be much better with a large roundabout for the end of M6 under the M1 with access to A14, and to minor roads.
More recently going from Worcester to Stanstead, I tried the same route, and the left lane of M6 was virtually standstill for about 2 miles coming up to the turn off for the roundabouts, but once on A14 traffic was fine!
Phil Deer has words of praise! But not many of them:
I've used it a lot recently coming south off the M1 onto the A14 eastbound. It's great that they've made Lane 1 of the M1 into a sliproad - but it's just as well...
I timed the traffic lights on the roundabout and noticed that traffic coming off the M6 gets 55 seconds to go through, while traffic off the M1 get seven!
No wonder they needed that sliproad! The sooner they rebuild this, the better!
Alan Bickerstaff spots a fault:
I use this regularly, but one thing struck me this morning in fairly heavy traffic going M1S-A14E. The lights were on green for 6 seconds only, with 9 seconds being given to M6S-A14E. This is no way to get a large volume of traffic moved swiftly. I know they have a limited amount of space to build back into without interfering with motorway traffic, but I'm sure that the "greens" could be longer. A simple software mod would sort this.
Tim Martin adds his two pence:
There is a blazingly obvious solution to this: simply make the A14 a continuation of the M6 mainline and add free-flowing links for A14-M1 and M6-M1(N) movements rather than having two shoddy roundabouts. I admit it would be expensive, but it would make the whole thing a lot easier and safer!
Clive Jones has come up with a novel plan:
I fully agree that the current junction is horribly deficient, for all the reasons stated. Being keen on junction design, and interested in the process by which traffic is kept flowing during roadworks, I've done something about it.
The design is based on a few key observations:
* Traffic from the A14 principally wants to get to the M6, and secondarily onto the M1 (N).
* Similarly, M6 to M1 (N) is an infrequent movement because of the M69.
* People want to be able to go between the A5 and A14/M1/M6, which probably seriously annoys the residents of Catthorpe.
* Tarmac is a lot cheaper than bridges.
With this in mind, and with a little lateral thinking, I came up with the notion that by far the most elegant approach is to re-align the A14 in a southwards sweep to merge with the M1 northbound. Two lanes would then meet three, and run as five up to the existing M1/M6 split.
Bill Wright writes:
A minor comment to underline the apalling construction and ill considered impact of this junction. I live in a village off junction 1 that gets every scrap of cut-through traffic avoiding this dogs breakfast of a junction. Also, the combination of three strategic routes "colliding" at one inadequate junction means that there have been 33 serious accidents in the triangle around the junction in the last 12 months [October 2003]. One every 10 days!
Paul Robertson writes:
Recent work has altered the junction a little, but I cannot say that it marks any form of improvement. There are some traffic lights and the western roundabout is a teardrop now, so you can't go back up the M6 having come off the M6 unless you pass under the M1 twice.
On the other hand, in your list of hates about the junction, you haven't mentioned the fact that the bridge under the M1 is only three lanes wide and is approached in both directions by two lanes. This makes for an evil squeeze unthe M6 to A14 movement, with drivers having no idea which lane is best to approach the first roundabout: two lanes up to the roundabout, two lanes off the roundabout, oh ****, now we have to merge without colliding.
An unmitigated disaster.