The A38(M) Aston Expressway is a motorway like no other. Not only does this road have the honour of starting at the magnificent Spaghetti Junction, it is also probably the most bizarre motorway in the UK. It has seven undivided lanes that are controlled by overhead signal gantries. Most of the time there are three lanes each way, but at peak hours the balance is tipped 4-2, always using one empty lane as a buffer.

Apparently there has never been a fatal head-on accident on this road (ie, no fatality has been caused by the lack of a central reservation), which is a tribute to the responsibility of those who use it. Nonetheless, motorcycles are now banned from the central lane because it contains a narrow drainage channel, and prior to the ban a fatality resulted from the covers of this channel working loose.

Motorways are crossed, over and under, by all manner of things - roads, railways, footbridges, water and gas mains, electricity lines and so on. But the A38(M) has a claim to fame that is probably unique in this country, if not the world. Where the road is in a deep cutting, the motorway used to bisect a factory compound owned by HP, the condiment company of brown table sauce fame. The result of this was that, connecting the two sides of the production line and passing over seven lanes of the Aston Expressway, was a vinegar pipeline. Sadly production has now moved overseas, and the pipeline is no more.

There are two other sections of A38 that are near motorway standard and which appear in the Motorway Database: the nearby A38 Midlands Section and the more distant A38 Devon Expressway.

Start
Gravelly Hill
End
Birmingham
Passes
None
Connects to
Length
2 miles
Open Junctions Section
May 1972 Entire motorway

Exit list

NB: The number of lanes available to traffic can vary from two to four. The notes above explain how this system works.

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
M6 J6 The NORTH WEST
The SOUTH WEST
M6 Link (M5 Link)
London (M1 Link)
(M40 Link, M42 Link)
M6 Link
Lichfield A38
Erdington
Sutton Coldfield
A5127








M6
(M5)
NORTH
A5127








A38

M6

A5127
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
2 miles, 2-4 lanes 1 mile, 2-4 lanes
B4132 Aston
B4132
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2-4 lanes
N/A A4540






A38
SOUTH
A4540





City Centre
Bromsgrove
A38
Ring Road
Other Routes
A4540
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Matt Pryce, Ben Norwood, David Morgan and Chris McKenna for information on this page.