A9 - M90 - A93

Broxden Roundabout

Where is it?

The end of the M90 spur (originally the mainline M90) at Perth, where it meets the A9 and the A93 into Perth itself. From the map, it might not look much, but it's one of the busiest roundabouts in Scotland and the centre of the country's road network.

It was nominated by 'Mad Manx'.

What's wrong with it?

Bad Junctions is about poor design, not just places that have run out of capacity. That's why most flat roundabout junctions that have problems don't make it in. Broxden is something quite different.

For one thing, it doesn't seem to be a very well designed roundabout. It's on a steep slope, meaning that heavy goods vehicles tip over here with alarming regularity, causing frequent hold-ups to two of Scotland's key trunk routes. It is statistically the most dangerous roundabout in Scotland because of this.

There's also the small consideration that there is simply no way around it. You can't avoid it, except possibly by going through Perth itself, which is hardly recommended. But there are no easy routes to bypass it in any direction. This is unhelpful when Broxden is the collision point of north-south and east-west journeys across Scotland, and one of the calling points on most journeys between places like Glasgow and Aberdeen or Edinburgh and Inverness.

Why is it wrong?

British road planners (and their whip-cracking political leaders, who write the rule books) like roundabouts. Roundabouts are cheap, they require no maintenance like traffic signals or bridges, they are easy for drivers to use, and they are almost unbelievably versatile. You can take any bizarre road layout and hammer it into a sensible shape with a couple of roundabouts.

It's great to have such a useful tool in your arsenal. The problem is that the roundabout is also the default choice when the traffic flows and turning movements aren't very decisive or you can't make your mind up about who should get priority through the junction. That is what seems to have happened here. You can almost imagine the conversation...

"We've got three high-speed roads meeting here west of Perth. Should we free-flow them together somehow?"

"Which one is the main road?"

"Er... we don't know. It looks like people will be moving around a lot so there won't be a dominant flow through it."

"Oh, that's fine then. Just stick a roundabout in and we'll put the spare cash towards the Christmas party."

What would be better?

Without having access to the traffic flows and a model of the turning movements that are made here, it's hard to say where a flyover or a bypass should go. Do more people go between the A9 to the north and the other arm of the A9, or do most of them actually head for the M90? Without knowing it's hopeless to speculate.

Some quick and effective fixes could be found, however, by some more left-turn lanes to enable, say, northbound A9 traffic to continue non-stop. You could also erect some signs warning lorry drivers that there is a severe risk of tipping over, because the word obviously isn't getting out. Just an idea.


Right to reply

Ed 15 February 2009

There have been big signs warning HGVs of the adverse camber at Broxden roundabout for at least 10 years... Perhaps someone should ask the haulage industry why their drivers keep tipping their wagons and hitting railway bridges!

Graham 15 February 2009

Actually, as you approach the roundabout from the North there already are signs warning lorry drivers that there is a severe risk of tipping over. Personally I drive around this roundabout regularly and have never seen any problem with it - then again I'm always passing on Friday and Sunday evenings, so maybe at other times it gets congested.

Glen 15 February 2009

One of the main problems at this roundabout is that many southbound drivers don't realise they have to make a right turn in order to stay on the A9. If you are, like me, heading south and want to join the southbound M90 the signs on the approach indicate that you can use both lanes. If you use the right hand lane, be prepared for drivers in the left hand lane driving in front of you, on the roundabout, as you try to exit and join the right hand lane of the southbound M90.

I have almost sent several drivers sideways down the M90 because of this.

There are plans to grade separate this along with the Keir and Inveralmond roundabouts, but they are "long term" plans which may see the light of day sometime within the next thirty years.

Arls 30 October 2009

I think the criticisms here are somewhat overstated. I moved up north 3 years ago and some of the critics of this junction should take the time out to check out the A45 Tollbar end junction when they're next down south if they want to see a broken junction. The English are far and away best at bodging roads, driving in Scotland is a dream by comparison!

Any cash spent on doing anything more than putting in more dedicated left turn filters here would be better spent grade separating some of the junctions on the A9 between here and M9 @ Dunblane. That road is crazy during the daytime or evening rush hour now with dark nights. It's a dual carriageway that should probably have been a motorway in the first place which has tens of busy right hand turns. Lethal!

Malcolm 23 November 2009

Just last month wife was driving round in middle lane when car was hit on rear offside by Dundee white van driver trying to exit from right hand lane to outside lane M90 just as predicted.

Kevin 14 July 2010

I am a native Glaswegian who now lives in Tayside - therefore I've been immunized against Broxden Junction by years on Scotland's road to hell - the M8. Yes - it's a game of Russian Roulette sometimes at rush hour trying to get onto the southbound A9 from Perth but it's easy enough once you have the knack. But look at the almost perfect alignment between the A9 Northbound and the M90 - why not sink the road down (like the Gyle interchange on the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass), and then you can freeflow from the M90 to A9, and have a flyover or something for the A9 south to Stirling? Maybe that was the original intention???

Michael 27 October 2010

The local council has granted planning permission to erect a 6m high sculpture on this roundabout, as part of Perth's 800th anniversary celebrations. The sculpture will stand on an 8m plinth, and will depict a grouse taking flight - no doubt scared by all the traffic! I wonder how this will affect any proposed improvements?

Matt 23 February 2012

The most annoying thing about this junction is the lack of left turn lanes. More and more often these days you have to queue for 10 mins to turn left from the M90 spur to A9 south. That's cheap and easy, why hasn't it been done?

For grade separation, remove the A93 from the junction and it's a simple directional-T. I'd like the A9 to be the through route to remove the TOTSO, but it doesn't really matter.

Divert the A93 down the B9112 and build a junction where it already passes underneath the M90 spur.

Too easy?

Oliver in response to Matt 16 May 2018

In reply to by Matt

That would be a good idea if it was done.

Steph 16 December 2014

We survived it. I must say this was the scariest of all roundabouts we encountered on our holiday. Being from Canada and already out of sorts with see oncoming cars hurtling towards us on what should be the passenger side, we thought we had developed some kind of truce with the excellent traffic circle concept. We were headed for Stirling with the use of the Welcome to Scotland app when we found ourselves at this massive circle: and uprecedented three lanes wide, heavy traffic sailing along at 50 miles/hr, and having no choice but to put the gas pedal to the floorboards to enter the melee, we got in. The phone app seemed to list different road numbers for our exit than what we saw on the signs, and counting the number of roads before we should exit didn't inspire confidence. My poor husband who was stuck with the driving had to go round three times before all occupants of the car collectively agreed on which exit to take. We ended up at Bannockburn. That wasn't so bad. We just took in a little more history before venturing to our intended destination. Like I said, we survived it. It was one of the hallmarks of our adventures in Scotland, but I wouldn't care to repeat it.

Chris Walker 29 November 2015

The thing that always catches me out about this roundabout is the lane markings on the approach from Stirling. For some reason, there's no right-turn marking at all, only left and straight-on, with both the A93 and M90 junctions being treated as straight-on.

This is doubly-confusing, because you can actually turn right onto the M90 from the left lane, which has a straight-on-and-left arrow painted on it.

Jennifer Wilson 1 March 2018

I am very familiar with this junction. The worst part of it is if you are leaving from Perth (A93) to either Glasgow or up the A9. You literally have to just wait until the roundabout is entirely clear to your right as if there is anything on there it will have picked up sufficient speed by the time you see it that you have no chance to get out. So you just have to wait. It possibly is a problem of the speed things are actually doing on the roundabout. Because its a big roundabout with two lanes then people are driving quite fast. As for flyovers I am not sure if that would help or not - would need to model the flow but I would say all routes are possible here as many are delivery trucks etc

Mrs S Evans 20 September 2022

We drove through the Broxden roundabout on the day the Queen died (8 September) from the direction of Glasgow towards Aberdeen on the A9 and ended up in a flash flood as it was raining extremely heavily and the roundabout is on a steep incline. It was really scary. We were lucky not to become engulfed by the muddy water and landslides.

Richard 29 September 2022

And of course on Sunday 11th of September the Queens coffin was driven through this roundabout on its way to Edinburgh.

Andrew McCracken 9 August 2023

This is as much about town planning as road traffic though of course the 2 are interrelated.

I was a planning student at Tayside Regional Council in the 1970s when the latter’s officials were pushing what they called “Poble’s Amendment” (named after the landowner who would benefit, perhaps - or just the affected tenant farmer?) to push the line of the A9 between Broxden and Inveralmond further west of the planned line.

Were they hoping it would safeguard the road as a genuine Perth bypass, immune from neighbouring development and local traffic? Silly sods. At least I like to think of them as naive and that they didn’t actually aspire to what has happened since. Which is that development of Perth has expanded right up to and even beyond the line of the A9. Even allowing for the general increase in road traffic, much of Broxden junction’s congestion problems are to do with local/regional traffic using the junction for local movements.

I agree that this is a hairy cum frustrating junction especially if you are travelling between the A9 north and the A/M90. No expenses spared engineering could resolve (temporarily) this junction’s problems. But would it just re-postpone the already visible outcome of letting developers take advantage of road improvements so that in the end the “improvements” don’t make the roads any less congested.

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