A45 - A46

Toll Bar End

Where is it?

The original beginning of Coventry's 1930s southern bypass, and now also the point the 1990s eastern bypass ends too. The A45 enters from the M45.

In late 2016 an underpass opened between the north and west arms of the junction, fixing its chronic traffic problems. It no longer exists in the form described on this page.

It was nominated by Phil Deer.

What's wrong with it?

It's a roundabout. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that; roundabouts are fine, generally speaking. It's just that this one is not quite up to the job. The roads meeting there are too busy for it. It's now festooned with a merry-looking garland of traffic lights, and it has broad three or four lane approaches from all directions. But it's not big enough to be signalised really, so all the stop lines are too close together and when waiting to join there's more road signing than you can read before the lights go green and you have to take a chance. It's not pretty.

Why is it wrong?

To the north lies a recently built bypass of Coventry, leading directly to the M6 and M69 and carrying an awful lot of traffic. To the west lies the southern bypass, with some grade separation and an awful lot of traffic. To the east lies the A45, the main road towards London, which becomes the M45 after a while, and carries an awful lot of traffic. All three work perfectly well until they collide at this little thing, with a couple of local roads thrown in for fun. It's just not enough for the amount of traffic that needs to pass through.

What would be better?

The Highways Agency plan to grade separate this in a few years time, so there is clearly a god of some sort. The trouble is they will only build a roundabout interchange — not ideal for this location — and can't decide whether west-north or west-east will get the underpass. Perhaps a better solution would be a small free-flowing junction, and the local roads can be rerouted elsewhere.


Right to reply

Stuart Hadley 10 March 2005

It's getting fixed! The Highways Agency suggest a start date of 2008 for a grade seperated junction with the A46(S) flowing into a widened A45(W) and vice versa (two major roads sharing a two lane dual carriageway which also happens to be the Coventry bypass - whose clever idea was that!). This should sort out most of the problems and ease the pressure on those traffic lights.

James Lewis 28 March 2005

Toll Bar End, Coventry- an absolute almighty death trap. I drove to the airport there today, what is this thing trying to be, a junction, roundabout, trafffic light or a hybrid of all of them? The signing is abysmal, the lights are hard to spot, the lane layout confusing and it has far too many roads leading to it.

Tony 24 June 2005

This roundabout is well known as "suicide island" (island being the local name for roundabout).

The fact that the airport is getting more flights has made the junction busier, plus the fact that the end of the runway is a matter of yards from the centre of the roundabout makes for fun, as the jets are but a few feet above your head as you fight for your space!

Jane 23 March 2007

Getting onto Rowley Road from the A46 in the mornings, even as early as 07.20, can be a bit of a nightmare. You have to get in the right lane! Getting from Rowley Rd to the A46 in the evening is an absolute nightmare, traffic from Siskin Drive blocks traffic from Rowley Road. Lorries block exit and entrance. They just sit there, blocking the way from the mini to the main roundabout. It took me nearly 25 minutes one Friday evening just to get from Rowley Road to the A46! I plan my departure from work very carefully now, either 15 minutes to or 15 minutes after the hour, be that 16.00, 17.00 or 18.00.

Derek Grange 20 April 2009

I worked on the roundabout a couple of years ago (part of the pre-works for the improvements) - it was horrific! One day we noticed that the lights had failed, and barely had the words "this is an accident waiting to happen" left my mouth, before it had happened! I used to take the back roads out of there each night rather than risk my neck on suicide island. Over the course of a week there were four crashes (including a BMW totalling one of the many sets of traffic lights), numerous near misses and a car fire. (OK, probably not the roundabout's fault.)

Dmitriy 18 May 2009

This was, indeed, a suicide island before they introduced traffic lights. It is somewhat better now.

The main problem is that A46 is an important connection between M40 and M6/M69. In particular, a lot of HGVs negotiate it in this direction. This roundabout is only one in a sequence of five that have to be negotiated. The optimal solution would really be to extend M69 and get rid of all five roundabouts.

An ex-Coventrian 25 November 2009

I can remember when it had no lights: aaagh! I was making weekly visits to Walsgrave so had to use it. Last weekend I was just entering the A45, heading for the Warwick bypass, when the three lanes suddenly became two and I was in the middle, with a car alongside. Not nice. I thought I'd got it right for once.

MackH 11 April 2010

This junction has always been bad, once again the planners think that by slowing the traffic, using lights or roundabouts, that there will be a safe solution to problem junctions. Light free, roundabout free, multi level juctions are required to all of the A45 from the M45 to Birmingham.

Fraser Mitchell 17 October 2014

The good news is that the junction is being upgraded with a dual carriageway underpass A46-A45 West, plus roundabout alterations. Whether the alterations will improve matters to any significant degree will only be known when it is completed. The problem with all road schemes in the UK is that by the time work starts the traffic flows have almost doubled making the original plans totally inadequate. This scheme will probably prove that view.

Mike Hindson-Evans 26 January 2016

It is getting better - the new junction is taking shape.

Now, so long as the drainage system can cope with the next monsoon to hit Warwickshire, all should be fine by late 2017!

Patrick 23 February 2016

I travelled this way with friends recently and on both the outbound and inbound journeys we were caught out given the lack of permanent signage. The new underpass will look impressive when complete, I imagine.

C Clarke 10 July 2016

I was under the impression that they were having to redo this because some clown used the wrong type of (sub-standard) concrete.

Been driving around this fiasco since 1987. Roundabout. Roundabout with lights. Roundabout with more junctions (except on the one from Willenhall). Used to be known as Kamikaze Island. Boot it and hope.

Malin Dixon 8 January 2017

Now that the underpass is open, the it is possible to travel from the A46 north of the roundabout to the A45 west of the roundabout on a grade separated route.

The roundabout to the north, where the A46 crosses the A428, known as the TGI roundabout, is now the bottleneck, so northbound queues extend in the evening rush hour extend all the way to the Toll Bar roundabout.

James Martin in response to Malin Dixon 25 September 2023

In reply to by Malin Dixon

The TGI island is now also grade separated. I understand the Walsgrave Island is to follow.

If they could cut out Festival Island somehow, that would then mean much-needed free-flowing access between the M1 and M40.

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