Tuesday, September 11, 2018

this is a brum do and no mistake

I had to drive to Birmingham and back today, which reminded me of another entry in the WHY HAVE THEY BUILT THIS ROAD THIS WAY IT'S LITERALLY MADNESS EVERYONE INVOLVED SHOULD BE KILLED hall of fame. This one has caught me out a couple of times before and occurs as you come along the M42 from east to west towards the interchange with the M5, which runs, broadly speaking, north-south.

So what happens is you're tootling along the M42 with a mental vision of peeling off to the left to turn onto the southbound M5, just like any other left turn you've ever made. So you drift into the left-hand lane only to notice at the vital moment that, hang on, the left-hand lane says M5(N) and the right-hand lanes say M5(S). What the hell?

As with the seemingly insanely convoluted nature of the A34/A303 junction as documented here, the key to understanding this is knowing the history of the junction. In this particular case, the reason that the junction appears to be back to front is that the original version only allowed access from M42 to M5 southbound, with an intended expansion to be added later that would have resulted in something much grander (and with the relevant slip roads peeling off much earlier) for the link to the northbound M5. It was only when the money and enthusiasm to do this ran out that the current bog-standard extra slip roads were put in to provide a northbound link as part of the existing junction. The two stages of the junction were opened in 1987 and 1989, as far as I can gather.

Another echo of an earlier post was provided by my radio listening on the drive back - I caught most of Michael Rosen's Word Of Mouth on Radio 4 on which his special guest was none other than Stephen Fry, a pretty safe bet as a guest on a show about language. The programme blurb contains a reference to Fry's enthusiasm for
the virtues of email and text as opposed to the sheer horror of having to talk on the telephone
which obviously resonates deeply with me, as I described in more detail here. The audio bit where he articulates the horror in more detail is towards the end of the programme and starts at about 24 minutes in.

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