Sign at Junction 19M6 Junction 19

 

Junction 19 at Knutsford is likely the most important and busiest junction on the M6 where the junction is with an A road and not another motorway. The reason for that is simple it is the main northbound junction for the huge city of Manchester and many of its satellites. Large amounts of traffic, particularly lorries leave the northbound carriageway to join the A556, whilst large amounts of traffic join the m6 southbound carriageway. What is unusual about this junction is that after about 5 miles of the A556 most of the Manchester bound traffic joins the M56 which crosses the M6 at junction 20 however no there is no direct route from the northbound m6 to the Manchester bound M56 and vise versa with the southbound M6 thus Manchester bound traffic have to come off at this junction.

The junction is a conventional roundabout over the motorway arrangement, generally the safest arrangement. The roundabout is controlled by traffic lights a testimony to the business of the junction. On opening the junction southbound was the main junction for Chester, however most Chester traffic will now use the M56 thus although still signed to Chester it is in practice the junction for Knutsford and Northwich two small Cheshire towns.

 

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

 
This junction though has another side to it statistic show it to be the most dangerous junction on the British motorway system why this is is looked at below:-  

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

 

The above shows how things should work if this was a standard if busy junction, we have coloured vehicles already on the M6 white, those joining as red. As they approach the junction those on the M6 are forced into lanes 2 and 3 by the joining traffic, these occupying lane 1 however as things even out there becomes a mixture of white and red vehicles as there should be.

So far this is fine, this is how the junction should work, however with this junction the problem is nothing to do with the junction itself it is the fact that less than a mile after the junction on the southbound carriageway is Knutsford Services. Follow the traffic as we add in the service station exit:-

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

 

The pattern that emerges towards the end of this movie is of a letter 'X' in that the red cars joining the motorway move over to lanes 2 and 3 to gain speed for there journey south, whilst some of the white vehicles move over to lane 1 for the services thus crossing the path of the red vehicles joining the motorway. Now look what happens when a driver makes a mistake:-

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

What we have here although relatively minor in terms of motorway crashes in that it only involved 14 vehicles, the rest either passing on the hard shoulder or stopping, illustrated what has happened on this stretch of carrigeway south of junction 19. A driver makes a wrong move in trying to get through the traffic joining the motorway from junction 19 trying to get to Knutsford services makes a mistake with the result being the above accident.

The section of the M6 just south of the junction and just north of the services can be seen in our Knutsford Photo Gallery.

How can this be avoided? Apart for physically moving the services the only safe way of procceding is to send all the traffic for the services off at junction 19, across the roundabout then back onto the M6 thus avoiding this crossover, however in practice as this is such a busy junction it will lead to queues and frustration and possibly queue's running back onto the M6 from the slip road and another danger of accidents. It would not stop those drivers who know this section of the M6 ignoring the signs and coming off to the services as they do now. The only permenant solution is rebuilding the slip road so that it goes round the back of the services and emerges onto the M6 sometime after the services, but whether that will be built is another matter.

Sign at Junction 19