The A38(M) Aston Expressway is a motorway like no other. It has the honour of starting at the magnificent Spaghetti Junction, but once you're away from the tangle of flyovers, it's probably the most bizarre motorway in the UK.
For most of its length it has a single wide carriageway, marked out with seven lanes, all controlled by overhead signal gantries. Most of the time there are three lanes each way, with one empty lane in the middle as a buffer, but at peak hours the balance is tipped 4-2, providing extra capacity in or out of Birmingham when it's needed most.
Despite the unusual layout, and the lack of a barrier between opposing flows of traffic, there has apparently never been a fatal head-on accident on this road, which is a tribute to good design, clear signals and the responsibility of those who use it. Nonetheless, motorcycles are now banned from the central lane because it contains a narrow drainage channel, and prior to the ban a fatality resulted from the covers of this channel working loose.
Motorways are crossed, over and under, by all manner of things - roads, railways, footbridges, water and gas mains, electricity lines and so on. But the A38(M) has a claim to fame that is probably unique in this country, if not the world. Where the road is in a deep cutting, the motorway used to bisect a factory compound owned by HP, the condiment company of brown table sauce fame. The result of this was that, connecting the two sides of the production line and passing over seven lanes of the Aston Expressway, was a vinegar pipeline. Sadly production has now moved overseas, and the pipeline is no more.