Spontaneous Motorway

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It should be that where a motorway starts, traffic not allowed on it is given a way off at the last second. This is the case all over the country — but in one location it was different. The Micklefield Bypass on the A1 in West Yorkshire was half motorway, half all-purpose, with the two sections joining directly onto each other. It's gone now, and the whole thing is now motorway.

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Welcome to the Micklefield Bypass, A1 side. Built in the 1960's with very crude grade-separation at junctions, it also features a sharp left, as signposted here. This section will be bypassed with new-build motorway in a few years. This photo was taken in a rare quiet moment, on a Sunday afternoon.

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A slightly neglected footbridge over the bypass: this shows, if the alignment didn't already prove it, that there's no chance of an on-line upgrade to three lane motorway here.

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A wider shot of the bypass, looking south from the footbridge. The right-hand bend here is the one the sign above warns northbound traffic about.

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Looking north from the footbridge, a similar view as expected. Except that by the time traffic reaches the right-hand bend further up the road, it is a motorway. There is clearly no exit from the road between here and there.

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And here is the moment itself — between the two bends seen above, there is an MS1 motorway signal in the central reservation, and a 'start of motorway restrictions' sign at either side. The one on the left hand side has "A1(M)" above the motorway symbol. There is no opportunity for non-motorway traffic to leave the road here, despite people like cyclists and learner drivers having every right to use the road up to that point. There's so little access I couldn't get closer than this to photograph it!

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Just south of the footbridge, there's some rather slapdash maintenance on boundary fences, so I could well just wander onto the A1 for a stroll (as I am legally entitled to). Three hundred yards north I would walk into motorway restrictions.

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Another hundred yards further south is this slightly alarming sight. A public footpath (appropriately enough named Corpse Road) crosses the A1 with no footbridge or subway, or even warning signs for traffic; just a gap in the barriers. Bear in mind southbound traffic has been travelling on a motorway (or motorway standard road) for at least five miles and will, to say the least, be unprepared for dog walkers strolling across the carriageway.

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Moving away from the A1, a few yards east of the footbridge, these little things start appearing: notices for works vehicles, put there by the contractor ready for the start of construction work on the next section of A1(M) which will replace the Micklefield bypass.

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Looking north across the countryside, there's evidence that the next upgrade will be off-line: stakes stretch out ascross the field, eventually rejoining the motorway alignment slightly north of its present unusual terminus.

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A view looking south, with more stakes marching across the hills.

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Looking further south, slightly hidden by trees, a village of bright green portacabins is visible. This is likely to be the base for construction work on this section of the new motorway.