A1 - A421

Name
Black Cat Roundabout

Where is it?

On the Bedfordshire section of A1, notorious as an ancient section of A1 full of roundabouts and right-turns, where the A421 trunk route from Bedford joins in.

What's wrong with it?

This whole section of A1 is at best unacceptable, and at worst downright dangerous. The Black Cat Roundabout is certainly a contender for the most dangerous junction on it. Considering this stretch of all-purpose A1 is between two sections of A1(M), the place where it meets another trunk route (and one which is a grade separated dual carriageway just a few miles further on) is not the place for a cramped roundabout. The Black Cat is a regular on traffic reports for overturned lorries and general congestion as the sheer volume of traffic finds it hard to get through.

Why is it wrong?

This section of the A1 was upgraded quite a while before the sections around it — it was dualled when the rest of the road was still single carriageway, by slapping another two lane carriageway next to the existing one. Back in the 1950s it must have been a dream, but now, stuck between two sections of fast A1(M), it's abysmal and traffic using it isn't used to travel on such a low-grade overused road. This junction simply hasn't been updated and is long overdue for an overhaul.

What would be better?

The A421 upgrade works could have included a new junction. It wouldn't be achieving the impossible to build a new roundabout with the A1 flying over the top — basic and very much a plain-vanilla option but it would be perfectly adequate here. Sadly all that happened was that the existing roundabout was made larger. Alternatively, since there's no other roads involved, how about a free-flowing trumpet, costing not much more in land, less in overbridges, and returning more in capacity?

Routes

Right to reply

I thought it WAS being replaced with a grade seperated junction and a connection from the A421 to the A428?

Jonathan Wilson 1 April 2022

Is there ANY instance anywhere in the UK where adding traffic lights to a roundabout has made things better?

Sanyknowes Roundabout (M2, Jct. 4) in NI, where the A8 meets the M2.

Traffic lights here really helped an awful congestion black spot.

Anonymous 22 July 2022

At least there making the A428 between black cat roundabout and Caxton gibbet roundabout which as well makes the A1 free-flow through the black cat roundabout as well as the A421 and A428. here's a website to look at the plans : https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/a428-black-cat-to-caxton-gibbe… do prefer though for the A1 to be free-flow between Baldock and Alconbury.

Anonymous 22 July 2022

I think that all the roundabouts on the A1 between Baldock and Alconbury should be removed.

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Published21 February 2017

Last updated3 March 2017