M6 - A34
Where is it?
M6 junction 7, the place where the busy M6 through the West Midlands conurbation meets the busy A34, the main road from Birmingham to Walsall (and back).
What's wrong with it?
It's a perfectly nice high-capacity three-level stacked roundabout interchange, as you can see. Trouble is, some fool connected the sliproads to and from the M6 to the west to the inside of the roundabout instead of the outside. Oops! Confusing and disorienting to say the least. It also means all the traffic from the M6 joins the roundabout on the same side, and traffic from the M6 eastbound passes an entry point to go back where it just came from before it can even leave the roundabout. Plus, it looks daft.
Why is it wrong?
The most likely reason is the proximity of junction 8 — the M5 interchange — which lies about half a mile further west. The lack of room between the M5 and A34 probably meant that even shifting the west-facing sliproads at this junction further east by just a few hundred yards like this would make a big impact on weaving traffic.
What would be better?
Shifting the west-side sliproads back to the outside of the roundabout is the obvious answer, but can't be done because of how close junction 8 is. Tricky. Having all the M6 sliproads further east and looping back to the roundabout would leave the same problem of everything joining together. Maybe we'll just have to leave it!
Right to reply
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These are the most recent comments on this junction. You can see all comments if you prefer.
Phil finds the unusual layout has its uses:
J7 of the M6 is useful if you want to avoid queues on the awful junction which is junction 8 of the M6. I just continue past the busy exit of junction 8 round to junction 7, hop off and as you can remain in the same lane to return back onto the M6 again, and return to junction 8, entering the opposite clear slip road. I usually save 5 or 10 minutes doing this in rush hour!
Stan Still actively wants to use this junction:
The most annoying part about this junction (for me anyway) is travelling northbound from Brum, on my way to the infamous J10 (I have the misfortune to live near J10).
I have a choice, I can plough on through the traffic to J10, or get off at J7 to go through Walsall (not the greatest place in the world - avoid it if you can).
My choice is decided by the matrix sign before J7, which is invariably blank. Then, when you pass J7 and go round the bend before J8, you see the queues of traffic and matrix signs flashing like it's November the 5th! Why can't the people at the control centre warn us of congestion, so we can get off at J7?
Tim Lidbetter finds it very useful:
It is perfect for the only move I have used it for - on two occasions. As a bypass of the M5 to M6(N) slip, which is often heavily congested, head for M6(E), and turn round at J7 - for which maneouvre you can just stay in lane from before the onslip at J8!
Dominic adds his two pence:
I use the junction every day and would say that the majority of drivers using it know what's happening. Problems occur with those that don't. Two annoyances in particular... First is that people approaching off the A34 north onto the gyratory think there's a give way line, and stop - there ain't and it causes queues on the A34. Secondly, people exiting the M6 northbound onto the gyratory seem to think the slip road has 2 lanes onto the gyratory - it's marked out for one approach lane, and those approaching in an imaginary second lane cause a lot of near misses. Basic advice - don't stop moving unless you absolutely have to, or you've had it!
Steve Cemm :
I can throw some light on the 'inside-out' junction M6/A34. In 1961 or 2 I was a sixteen year old land surveyor working on the route. I was sent ahead to set out points for cross section levels of the proposed route and discovered that there were new houses being built closer to the proposed road than the plans show. I reported this and I recall that the engineers came up with a plan to narrow the junction, to avoid paying compensation to the housebuilders who had been given the wrong line.