Spaghetti Junction celebrates 40th anniversary

11/05/2012

Spaghetti Junction, at junction 6 on the M6 motorway in Birmingham, will reach an important milestone on 24th May. It is 40 years since the Gravelly Hill Interchange, as it was initially known, was formally opened by the then transport secretary Peter Walker, who hailed it as ‘the future of motoring’.

The interchange took 11 years to plan and 4 years to build at a total cost of £10.8 million. The 30-acre site is supported by 559 concrete columns up to 80 feet high and spans several roads, two rivers, two railway lines and three canals.

Interestingly, the site was supposedly of such strategic importance that it was thought to be a nuclear bomb target for Russia in the Cold War.

The junction was given its adopted ‘Spaghetti Junction’ name by a Birmingham newspaper reporter who likened the intertwined road network to a plate of spaghetti.

Over the past 40 years, the interchange has experienced eternal traffic jams, break downs, lane closures and repair works which has made the meeting of the M6, A38 and A5127 such an infamous landmark of the British road network. Peter Walker was correct in a sense as Spaghetti junction has indeed proved ‘the future of motoring’ as Britain experiences ever more congested roads.

In 2009, Spaghetti Junction was voted Britain’s most terrifying junction, in a survey which also found that a large number of motorists would make gigantic detours through the West Midlands to avoid it completely.

Originally designed to take 75,000 vehicles a day, Spaghetti Junction now deals with twice that amount. In its 40-year history there has been close to 2bn vehicles passing through.

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