The western flank is the third side of Croydon's ring road, the widest and most ambitious, and probably the most hated. After it was opened, any further ideas about building the north side to complete the scheme seem to have been quickly forgotten about.
Roman Way is a three-lane elevated dual carriageway for no apparent reason. At its northern end it turns into a residential street and at its southern end it narrows to two lanes before dying at a roundabout - it was originally three lanes each way but was narrowed to improve the safety of what amounted to a racetrack hurtling towards a give way line. It's hard to imagine how this much highway capacity could ever have been needed here.
Duppas Hill Roundabout beneath The Croydon Flyover forms the start of the west side of the Croydon Ring Road, which is to the left of this picture. The semi-detached house to the left is one of many that lie frighteningly close to this ugly junction.
The first section of road, dualled in the 1960s, is called Old Town. Presumably there was once a matching row of houses along what is now the northbound (left-hand) carriageway. In true Croydon Ring Road fashion, it stops for a set of traffic lights with irritating regularity.
Just behind the camera in the previous picture is a gap outside Croydon's main fire station. It has a gap in the central reserve marked with these quite ineffective signs. What's wrong with a good old-fashioned "no entry" sign?
Old Town curves right as it continues past the town centre. The markings on the road are for a speed camera, just out of shot to the right. Because of houses on both sides - some fronting directly on to the road - the speed limit here is 30. The greenery in the central reservation is on top of what used to be a third lane; in the opposite direction there are parking bays to narrow the road.
The first junction is here at Rectory Grove. When Old Town was extended in the 1970s as part of the ring road scheme, this was a grade-separated junction, most of which used existing streets. To the left was a free-flowing entry and exit, with the dual carriageway widening to three lanes as it passed through the junction.
Roman Way is the name of the road from here onwards - more imaginative than "The Croydon Flyover", but still really quite bland. The plants on this tiny traffic island are desperately trying to compensate for the lack of greenery anywhere else at the junction.
Another look at the Rectory Grove junction. To the right was the corresponding entry and exit for the southbound side. Ahead, there's an odd swerve in the three forward lanes, where it's obvious they have been moved left to incorporate a right-turn lane. The left lane is now in the space that used to be an acceleration lane from Rectory Grove. (It still has a smaller streetlight over it that would have made more sense when it was not above the main carriageway.)
The approach from the southbound carriageway shows the old layout more clearly: here the three forward lanes are in their original place, with the old deceleration lane for exiting traffic quite obvious. The central reserve has been opened up, but only to travel eastwards (right to left in this picture). Westbound traffic can still - bizarrely - pass underneath and doesn't have to cross Roman Way on the level.
The entry and exit on the southbound side, once free-flowing and now controlled by a forest of traffic lights.Through the middle of the triangular island, traffic can enter the side road having turned through a gap in the central reserve, but the opposite movement isn't possible.
Roman Way was rammed as blithely through the urban area in the same way as its predecessors. As well as cutting up residential streets and leaving once-pleasant houses fronting on to fast dual carriageways, the Rectory Grove junction is also right on the doorstep of this handsome church.
On the west side of the Roman Way flyover, this is Cairo New Road - the street that used to pass under Roman Way and join up the two halves of the grade-separated junction. It's now one way (westbound) underneath, which is why the junction on top has been signalised. Croydon Tramlink passes through the space it used to occupy, leaving room for just one lane of traffic.
The east side of the flyover, at the other end of the underpass. The road cannot share with the tram tracks here as the tram is on a reversible single-track.
On top of the Roman Way flyover, looking north-west at the two chimneys of Ikea Croydon. These houses are just a handful of those in the shadow of this enormous road. There was massive local opposition to it being built, and the local newspaper described it as the "Berlin Wall" in recognition of the way it divided a previously continuous residential area.
Continuing northbound towards the ring road's end point, another grade separated junction lies at the north end of the flyover. Once it formed a matching pair with the one at Rectory Grove. Now it's on its own.
Here it is in all its glory: a pelican crossing has been placed between the two traffic islands. It hardly matters though - the road stops with alarming speed just around the corner.
Looking southbound, traffic coming down the hill finds that three lanes suddenly become - er - none. Only two pass through the traffic lights, but there's no indication of where the middle lane should go. This type of "deal with it" lane marking is quite common in London.
The end of the line: three lanes reduced to one in the space of 100m (110 yards). Ahead is the A236 Mitcham Road. This is the end of the ring road. To add insult to injury, at the time this photo was taken, there were roadworks just ahead with a single-file section controlled by traffic lights. A six-lane dual carriageway down to single-file in one go - surely that's a record?
- Photo tour: south side
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