A38(M)

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.

There are two other sections of A38 that are near motorway standard and which appear in the Motorway Database: the nearby A38 Midlands Section and the more distant A38 Devon Expressway.

Start

Gravelly Hill

End

Birmingham

Passes

None

Connects to

M6

Length

2 miles

Open Junctions Section
May 1972 Entire motorway

Exit list

Symbols and conventions are explained in the key to exit lists. You can click any junction to see its full details.

NB: The number of lanes available to traffic can vary from two to four. The notes above explain how this system works.

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
M6 J6 The NORTH WEST
The SOUTH WEST
M6 Link (M5 Link)
London (M1 Link)
(M40 Link, M42 Link)
M6 Link
Lichfield A38
Erdington
Sutton Coldfield
A5127






M6
(M5)
NORTH
A5127





A38



M6


A5127
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
2 miles, 2-4 lanes 1 mile, 2-4 lanes
B4132 Aston
B4132
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2-4 lanes
N/A A4540



A38
SOUTH
A5127


A4540





City Centre
Bromsgrove
A38
Ring Road
Other Routes
A4540
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Matt Pryce, Ben Norwood, David Morgan and Chris McKenna for information on this page.

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About this page

Published22 April 2017

Last updated25 June 2022