Where is it?
Newark-on-Trent, a market town on the route of the Great North Road. This junction links the A1's bypass of the town to the A17 and A46, two other major roads that converge here.
It was nominated by Gary.
What's wrong with it?
First impressions are very important. Turn up to a first date in your blood-stained uniform fresh from the abattoir and you are unlikely to get a goodnight kiss. Job interviews should not be attended in a dressing gown and hair curlers. In the same way, the way in to a town can go a long way to shaping your view of it.
Newark is suffering in this regard. Turn off the A1 and the gateway to the town is this underwhelming interchange. It does not signal a forward-thinking place of business and culture. It does not herald a town of civic pride and investment. No, this basic and underdeveloped junction is more likely to bring to mind a grass-chewing yokel leaning on his fence and saying "Arr, Winthorpe, now those feller's 'ave a flyover. Them's posh out that way."
Why is it wrong?
The Newark Bypass is old. Like much of the A1 in the Midlands, it was built as part of a bundle of improvement schemes carried out on the A1 in the 1960s. It has seen little change since then, and the result is this rather old-fashioned affair on a road that is now carrying levels of traffic that, further north, have justified upgrade works to turn the A1 into a three-lane motorway.
There are no motorway upgrades happening to the Nottinghamshire section of the A1, because lately all the money has gone into other roads nearby. There was the A46 Newark Bypass in the 1990s, which was plugged straight into this junction. The A46 Newark to Lincoln, upgraded to dual carriageway in recent years, which — er — plugged straight into this junction. Shortly the A46 will be dualled and turned into a fast expressway all the way from Leicester to Newark and (guess what?) that too will be glued on to this tottering old interchange, sending all through traffic on a new cross-country dual carriageway through the roundabouts at Winthorpe.
It's a fairly common problem: multiple road improvement schemes that fail to take responsibility for the junction where they all meet. Winthorpe Interchange has taken this to a whole new level.
What would be better?
A new junction for the major roads a little further north on the A1 would be nice, leaving this for local traffic, but there are flood plains on the other side of the railway so it's not going to happen.
Perhaps the A46 could bypass this junction immediately to the north, with sliproads back to the roundabouts — that would get rid of some of the through traffic, at least. And, even cheaper, widening out the sliproads a bit so that heavy goods vehicles don't have to breathe in to pass each other would be a simple and very effective improvement.
Right to reply
I sometimes wonder if the best thing to do would be to resurrect the old A17 (the road that goes through Coddington) which doesn't seem to be much worse than the new bit of the A17 and upgrade the old A1/A17 intersection? I go this way pretty much whatever. There's not much reason for A17 traffic to access the A46 - if you go to Lincoln you'd turn off at Sleaford, for Nottingham you'd go through Grantham, I suspect most A17 traffic is joining the A1 heading in the same direction.
It's so bad at times it's arguably quicker to go through the middle of Newark.
It can't help that the single carriageway Newark Western bypass lies between two dual carriageway stretches of the A46 while handling a considerable volume of traffic joining and leaving the A1.
I do believe there are plans in the pipeline to dual the bypass, so maybe there is some prospect of an improvement to this junction.
Apparently dualling the A46 will be one of the first RIS2 schemes. Who else thinks the dual carriageway will just be bolted into the existing junction with minimal changes, and it'll slowly turn into the next Switch Island...
I'm also not keen on the Newark Southern Link Road which involves a new roundabout on the dual carriageway south of Farndon. If the road is being dualled, what short-sighted idiot allowed that?
In terms of upgrading the junction as-is, perhaps rerouting the A46 around the outside of Winthorpe (between the railway line and the village) to connect with the existing roundabout north of the golf centre would be a start. Add a roundabout for local access to Winthorpe and the A1133, and then use what remains of the old A46 mainline as sliproads from the A1/A17 junction to it would be some solution.
Having looked at the old A1/A17 junction though, perhaps reviving that is the best bet, leaving the A46 to take the brunt of this junction, and having the A17 renumbered as an extension of the B6166 towards the roundabout near Coddington.
2019 and Newark grinds to a halt most afternoons of the week. A1 traffic combines with A46 traffic, and head into town to avoid the snarl up. The poor folk trying to get round their business inevitably get frustrated with sitting an hour or more just to travel to a shop. The whole road network in and around Newark is creaking and groaning under the strain of modern traffic levels. Occasional reprofiling of approaches haven't prevented dozens of people being killed on the A1 slip roads as yards of queuing cars get flattened by HGVs.
Dramatic sounding I know but the local area these days is notoriously dangerous.
One minor and easily fixed problem is signage - heading from the A46 to the A1 north, you are directed to the Winthorpe junction. Those who know take the A616 and B6325 from the Cattle Market Island (2nd roundabout on the bypass on the A46), past the sugar factory - saves about 20 minutes sometimes
Highways England have published two options for dualling the A46 through this junction. Both involve routing the A46 on a flyover so that the road no longer has to pass through the rather cramped roundabouts either side of the A1, which will doubtlessly provide some welcome relief. However, it looks as if the short and tight sliproads off the A1 will remain, which is a little disappointing - surely the A46 and A17 deserve a better connection to the A1?
Highways England have released their plans for dualling the A46 – both options involve putting the A46 on a new flyover to the north without actually making any changes to this junction, although hopefully by removing through traffic from the roundabouts it'll be less congested for traffic heading to and from the A1.
The consultation is here: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a46-newark-bypass-options/
Ideally you would replace the crappy on/off ramps with real on/off ramps that meet in the middle at some kind of fast efficient interchange (if the UK didn't seem to have a bizarre aversion to them for some reason, a SPUI would probably go great here).
Highways England have announced their preferred route today (24.02.22) which features flyovers over the A1 and Cattle Market roundabout, which is good news and broadly in line with your suggested solution.
It's a shame that the short sliproads on and off the A1 will remain in place. A town of Newark's size really warrants a better connection to the A1, as do the A46 and A17 as important cross-country routes, but the proposed scheme will hopefully relieve the small roundabouts of some congestion. Extending the sliproads would probably be extremely difficult and expensive given the area is quite built up - not to mention the other junctions close by.
I was stationed at Cranwell in the early nineties and used this junction a lot travelling back to Lancashire, and its a very busy junction. Putting a flyover in is the best idea Ive heard of for this junction. The A17 is supposedly the busiest A road per mile or something like that. It certainly seemed like that whenever I drove on it, and in just over 3 years at Cranwell there were 15 fatalities on the stretch between Newark and Sleaford.