M57 - M58 - A59

Switch Island

Where is it?

M57 junction 7. The point where two major routes out of Liverpool cross over and meet the ring road.

Its layout has changed slightly since the aerial photographs were taken and the map was drawn — the M57 now cuts through the middle of what remains of the roundabout, meeting the dual carriageway A59 at a giant T-junction.

What's wrong with it?

This is a junction where five important (and insanely busy) roads all meet together and fight for space. It's quite simply overloaded on an unimaginable scale — there is probably no other flat traffic-light junction in the UK that caters for so many important roads.

It's the terminus of two three-lane motorways and three important dual carriageways, and all five of them dump every single vehicle onto the same mauled, disfigured roundabout. To make things that bit more interesting, there's also a dual carriageway across the centre of the roundabout, a T-junction in the middle where it meets the M57, and some links are broken, the whole tangle being orchestrated by a carousel of traffic lights.

The westernmost loop is now an inspection area for Customs and Excise, Police and the Highways Agency, and is no longer a functioning part of the junction.

Why is it wrong?

It's taking more traffic than it was ever meant to, and not only because traffic levels have been rising since it was built. This was not meant to be the end-point of the M57 or M58, which should have taken lots of traffic straight over the top. It's known for certain that the M57 should have gone straight on to end somewhere near Formby, or perhaps even Southport, completing an outer ring road for Liverpool. This is evidenced by the wide flare to the M57's carriageways where the motorway should have continued. The M58's carriageways do the same, with a proposed but now abandoned route heading towards Liverpool alongside the railway.

Adding to the mess is the addition of the road across the middle, which was originally intended to be a flyover to make things go more smoothly but which was actually built on the same level as the rest of things, so now traffic goes across the roundabout as well as round it, hitting yet more traffic lights where the various streams bang into each other.

What would be better?

I don't think it would be unreasonable to suggest that we evacuate Liverpool to make sure that nobody has to suffer the life-changing hardship that this junction causes. That would be a bit expensive though, and some people say an overreaction. What do they know?

In fact it's pretty hard to see what could realistically be done to make things any better. What would help would be to raise the A5036 over on an actual, real flyover and continue it onto the A59/M58, with sliproads dropping down onto the roundabout from there. The view of that flyover at sunset, with flocks of pigs soaring overhead, would be a sight to behold.


Right to reply

Dave Murten 21 April 2006

Only Scouser Engineering could provide this dangerous situation.

At the northern end of the M57, northbound at the roundabout (?) junction with the A59 and M58, they have now widened it to 3 lanes and the right-hand lane is signed A59 and M58. At the second set of traffic lights a right turn arrow is on the lights BUT no upright sign actually indicates the road layout.

As I discovered the hard way, there are three roads separated by dual carriageway islands.

The first right turn is really a no entry with traffic travelling right to left through the roundabout. There are two No Entry signs at 90 degrees to the traffic approaching from the M57 but they are not visible as you approach the traffic light stop line.

The second right turn is only for traffic from left to right taking the turning to the M57 south. Get in these lanes and you are either going back down the M57 or through all the other lights on the roundabout and back to where you started.

The third right turn is actually the one that you want for the M58 and the A59 but not a single sign to indicate this.

Cars were taking the first turn and coming face to face with oncoming traffic, then having to reverse into the flow of traffic behind them. Others were taking the second turn and then, realising their mistake, were doing allsorts of manoeuvres to get back into the correct lanes.

This traffic layout MUST be clearly signed using upright signage before some serious accidents happen.

CPat in response to Dave Murten 19 February 2019

In reply to by Dave Murten

"Only scouser engineering"... ?? Highways England plan the roads.. not scousers....?

Dan Harvey 14 February 2008

I have to use this junction nearly every day when coming home from work, and these extra traffic signals have caused the traffic jams to only be separated by the junctions. If someone is very impatient they could be caught across the junctions blocking oncoming traffic.

If you are travelling south from the A59 or M58 to Copy Lane there are five sets of lights you must go through; the first at the A59/M58 Junction, the next three across Switch Island and the fifth at Copy Lane/Dunningsbridge Road (which in itself is a busy junction).

When the first set on Switch Island turns red, the middle and last ones can quite often be left free of any traffic. Then the lights don't change until traffic approaches them meaning it's start-stop all the way across. During the rush hours traffic heading south waiting to turn right onto Copy Lane/Northern Perimeter from Dunningsbridge leads all the way back to Switch Island.

I think this proposed link to Thornton would have been a great addition. Not only would it have reduced the traffic having to head up Dunnigsbridge Road to get to Copy Lane or Northern Perimeter Road but also the new roundabout at Brickwall Lane/Northern Perimeter/Buckley Hill Lane/Lydiate lane would have improved the existing Junction, especially when wanting to turn onto Brickwall Lane from Northern Perimeter. When travelling during the rush hours I tend to use this road as it is less congested than Switch Island but the angle the junction is at just adds to the problem.

Simon Patterson 23 June 2008

Whilst everyone jumps the gun and says that there is now a new set of lights to contend with, in theory, the A59/South Roundabout merge has had its lights decomissioned, so in actual fact there are the same amount of signal sites experienced as there used to be (with exceptions made for the new toucan crossings). The signals are also SCOOT linked, and thus try to move traffic through with minimal delay. However, the close spacings of the signals apparently force SCOOT to make sacrifices in places. This does lead to queues - but they are nowhere near as bad as they used to be.

Mark Marsland 10 July 2008

I had an old 1980s A-Z and this showed the proposed Nortern Perimiter Road from Switch Island. The route was to go between Thornton and Ford following closely the path of the Leeds/Liverpool Canal and terminate at the traffic Island at Bridge Road, Seaforth. As with all good and needed schemes, shelved.

Hubert 31 January 2010

The 1970's extension scheme was shelved amid protests from the huge numbers of people who were being served with compulsory purchase orders and, generally, bullied into letting a road go through. Part of the rationale for this was that the common understanding was that the M62 would loop round to meet the terminus on the Docks thus splitting the city in two.

Many of the commercial landowners from both the proposed M57 and M62 routes held out on strictly commercial grounds while playing politics and suggesting the Unions were to blame (At that time, Liverpool had frequent dock strikes, but far fewer than Southampton where the major landowners also had significant stakes. It is as much a matter of playing the local authorities off against each other as it is industrial relations).

The Route that the M62 was proposed to take is now being demolished (Wavertree Road) and will, most likely, link up to the Technology Park (which is built on former British Rail Land - at the time, this was the community suggestion rejected by most Businesses), thus leading out to Edge Lane and giving an additional route up to the M62.

The Route that the M57 was proposed to take is now Freeport and so the Landowners have got what they wanted. Insane amounts of profits from the containerised traffic coming through Liverpool. (There is as much, if not more tonnage coming through Liverpool now as in the 1960's - but the docks employ less than 20% of the people). This means that there is increasing traffic up the North of the City to the M57 but a large commercial incentive to prevent development of any additional road capacity.

Having said that, the roundabout alterations help in ways not imaginable to anybody considering the Junction in theory. It really does make the whole of the junction a lot less horrifying - except at rush hours: it seems to make it worse.

Can I book a ticket for evacuation now?

Anonymous 16 February 2010

A new layout has been proposed, and i believe it will be carried out. I can't see it reducing much of the congestion as traffic coming from the M58 and A59 will still have to use Dunningsbridge road to head West.

John 25 September 2010

As a junction to use every day you could probably learn to live with this, in much the same way as you could probably learn to live with a missing limb.

The real problem is when you try to direct someone else through the junction. How exactly are you supposed to say "keep in the left-hand lane through the traffic lights and then immediately move into the third lane of six, bearing left as you do"? That dissertation covers about a third of the route between the M58 and the A59.

DebonAir 28 January 2011

I had the great pleasure of using this junction on the day one of the "improvements" had been opened.

I'm not sure quite who the presiding traffic policeman had annoyed, but I shall never forget seeing him fear for his life as he stood in the middle of about 6 lanes, directing the lorries heading dockwards on either side of him.

Definitely not a job you'd volunteer for.

Fredsie 13 October 2014

It's worth noting that, on top of all you've said, a new road is being added at the junction - the Thornton bypass, due to complete in December 2014.

Nik 19 August 2015

The 3-mile Thornton by-pass link has now been added to the scrum. Forty-some years in the planning, nine months late due to weather and 'bad ground'...

We hope to take a look tomorrow.

Julie 26 December 2015

How DARE anybody suggest a flyover at Switch Island? Do you have any vague concept of what the locals of this area have lost? Switch Island used to be a green, tree covered island, with extensive rural surroundings. We have lost so much beauty from this area that it is too much to bear. We have suffered extensive house building with resulting loss of the most beautiful first class agricultural land, two motorways, and two of the most ridiculous, unnecessary, and useless roads (Northern Perimeter and Broom's Cross) in the history of mankind. Do you not think this is more than enough without the addition of an ugly flyover?

Dan in response to Julie 12 October 2017

In reply to by Julie

A flyover (done correctly) would actually reduce the grey and increase the green in the area because there's less need to have road cutting through each other, plus with the traffic moving smoother it would also reduce noise and pollution in the area because there would be less stationary vehicles.
Currently all the roads are stacked right onto of each other within a small space (relatively) creating a flyover would allow for those roads to be spaced further apart thus allowing more greenery to be placed between them which would ultimately hide a flyover and most of the other roadways.

Carl Spurling 3 May 2016

I use this junction practically daily, it has always been awful, but just at the moment it really is exceeding itself. All the tinkering over the years with Switch Island has not really helped, major money needs spending here to cope with traffic flows.

Daniel 8 February 2018

This was horrible 30 years ago...I can't imagine what it must be like to use on a regular basis now. One wonders how many more acres they're going to bury under concrete to allow motorists to queue before they finally accept that the concreting has to stop and the bridge-building or tunnel-building has to start. Well, that, or abandonment of one or more of the roads entering the junction.

The A5758 here expands from 1 lane into 7 on the approach to this junction...surely that's got to be some kind of record!?

Ashley 5 June 2021

This is a horrific thing, can't even call it a roundabout its just a thing. Sat navs even now can't cope with it and give wrong lane guidance, was with a bunch of other cars making U turns who had all also messed up, crash on it as well. How can this be allowed to continue? its dangerous.

Why on earth bother with a satnav? Just follow the (many) road signs and markings. Far easier.

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