M58 - A577
Where is it?
M58 junction 5, the main junction for the new town of Skelmersdale from Liverpool's northern radial motorway, the M58.
It was nominated by Paul Berry.
What's wrong with it?
Take a look. It's what you'd get if you took a bag full of all the exciting junction elements you liked best and then tipped them out randomly all over the floor.
There's a pair of loop ramps that get M58 traffic to and from the A577 in the wrong direction, there's the half-roundabout thing south of the M58, and there's the sliproad that's an unclassified road for most of its length. There's the fact that the majority of movements involve doing a large lazy circuit of the round bit at the bottom. I'd like to write more but every time I look at the diagram I just start to weep uncontrollably.
Why is it wrong?
Who knows. The best excuse I've heard so far was that the M58 here was originally an A-road, built with Skelmersdale and then absorbed into the M58 route. As far as I'm concerned this goes no distance at all to explain why, to get from eastbound to northbound, I have to complete a figure of 8, or why there's some very unnecessary conflict created between the loops on the M58.
One person who worked on the upgrade scheme to turn this road into the M58 said, with a sigh, that it was a junction designed by an architect. Old maps show that, once upon a time, a useful sliproad existed from westbound to northbound that was removed for reasons unknown. It seems that, like the rest of Skelmersdale's road network, this is an experiment that went wrong.
What would be better?
Well, let me see. I think the first thing on the list has to be levelling the entire thing and starting again. There's so little traffic on any of the roads concerned that you might as well install a mini-roundabout with peak time traffic lights and have done with it: at least it would provide a direct left-turn off the M58. Ideally though, a simple roundabout interchange would be installed, which is really what should have been here right from the start.
Right to reply
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These are the most recent comments on this junction. You can see all comments if you prefer.
Terry Trumpets has the plans:
The main reason M58 J5 has such an odd layout is that it was originally designed as a variant on a cloverleaf junction (very rare in Britain but sadly all too common on the continent and in the USA), and several critical parts of the junction south of the motorway are missing.
Most significantly, the A577 was meant to continue south through the junction, and merge with a road that was never built; the not-quite-a-roundabout at the southern end was designed to accommodate turning movements, and was not meant to be the through route.
In addition to this, there was an M58 east-A577 north sliproad in the original plans (built, and since removed) and another loop in the south-west corner, between M58 west and A577 north. As the A577 was never extended to the south, the latter was considered redundant and was never built.
A diagram of the original plan can be found here.
Why the designers chose to use a cloverleaf as their template, I really don't know; as many previous commenters have noted, it's an incredibly dangerous way to link two high-capacity fast-moving roads, and was regarded as obsolete by the time Britain started building motorways. Perhaps they thought it would make Skelmersdale look more American and therefore more aspirational.
Richard Dastardly writes:
A definite resemblance to Munch's "The Scream"...
Bryn Buck is speechless:
My girlfriend, a non-driver, asked why anyone thought this was a good idea when we were on a bit of a drive last week.
I, despite being a traffic professional, couldn't defend it. The sightlines on all of the sliproads are nothing short of awful, and the less said about the standing start onto the M58 the better...
John of Reading was rudely awakened:
After 4 hours Motorway driving from Reading, hitting the Pimbo masterpiece to take Stannanought Rd (why the name?) to Ashurst (estate) is a wake up call.
This junction is a triumph of mobility over access - you keep moving without arriving. An unmentioned vice is the lack of access to Upholland Railway Station for Park and Ride.
The answer is a proper hierarchy: M roads mainly connect to A roads then to B/C etc but no bad short cuts!
Paul Wharmby has delivered his verdict:
I use this junction several times a week to travel to the Gym. It regularly causes me to sweat more than the workout (but maybe that's me).
Perhaps the main issue for me is the ease with which fast- and slow-moving traffic can meet. Leaving the motorway westbound, you have a 40mph sign 20 metres down the sliproad. Another 20 metres further on, the East Pimbo ringroad hits the sliproad, with all its' attendant artics. After a sharp 100degree left round Walter Edmundson Haulage you are required to give way to traffic out of Skem that's essentially coming from behind you.
Having negotiated the loop at the bottom of the junction and avoided the trucks leaving the West Pimbo loop you're confronted by a large expanse of tarmac which is 66% westbound on-slip, 33% West Pimbo loop and 100% unmarked.
All this excitement takes place at varying speeds between 40 and 70 and within the space of 400 metres. There's too much going on in too small an area to have any confidence in your ability to arrive at your destination unscathed.
To reiterate Stuart and Catherine's comments, the real terror of this junction is the eastbound on / off slip. I can guarantee that the first time you use the on slip, you won't realise that you have to give way. You will have a deeply religious moment when you pray that nothing is coming down the off slip at motorway speeds. Subsequent uses replace this moment of shock with a feeling of helplessness as you approach the give way sign with no real view of the motorway to allow you to judge whether it's safe to continue. This experience is such that I occasionally continue a mile down the A577 to double back and use the alternative, and much safer, on slip (or, alternatively, avoid the final 2 miles of the M58 altogether).
What could be done to improve it? Well, a roundabout on the A577 feeding the eastern eastbound on slip and the eastbound off slip would allow closure of the ridiculous western eastbound on slip. It would be relatively easy to connect the East Pimbo loop to this roundabout via Chequer Lane, solving the eastbound exit slip problems. Beyond that, some sensible landscaping, signage and a few litres of white line paint should have this junction working properly. That, alas, doesn't address the simple fact that both the concept and execution of the Pimbo industrial estates and their fast, one-way, two-lane ring roads is deeply deeply flawed.