M6 Junction 44
If you have reached Junction 44 then you have come to what was for 38 year sthe northern end of the M6. Junction 44 was opened as the northern end of the Carlisle Bypass in 1970, only 6 months later this isolated northern outpost of the M6 was joined through to the rest of the motorway further south making junction 44 the final junction on Britain's longest motorway.
Prior to this junction being built there was an earlier junction between the A7 and the A74, although the A7 had numerical priority the junction was designed to favour A74 traffic with the main route to Edinburgh from Carlisle being signed along the A74 as well as that to Glasgow. During the early 1960's the A74 had been dueled between Gretna and Hamilton, making it the most important road in southern Scotland even transcending the A1 on the east coast. With the coming of the M6 the dual carriageway was lengthened to meet the new motorway.
The junction was designed with the A74 becoming the main way off the M6 effectively a northern extension to the motorway and would be a classic through junction with a roundabout above the motorway except for the fact that as the M6 ended the carriageway dropped to 2 lanes. What nobody explained at the time was why this happened, the two lanes where meant to take most of the 3 lane M6 as well as quite a volume of traffic coming from Carlisle, it was only intended for a minority of traffic to use the A7 to Galashiels. Back in 1970 this though was not a problem only as traffic increased has this become apparent.
|In 1990 the A689 was built from Brampton to Junction 44 being an alternative route to using the A69 to junction 43 for traffic from Brampton and the east wanting to go either north to Glasgow or west to Dumfries and Stranraer. Shortly after the A74(M) arrived at Gretna about 6 miles away and was extended northwards to the M74, this from Gretna it was now possible to reach Glasgow by motorway, however this gap on the A74 between junction 44 M6 and the A74(M) at Gretna has yet to be filled and has even reached notoriety with a major accident stranding motorist for over 24 hours in December 2004. Plans to convert this gap into a motorway have been around for many years but have not yet come to fruition. There is also a possibility of changing the A74(M) to become the M6 if so the M6 could eventually reach Glasgow!|
The M6 was extended north opening on 5 December 2008, however for the time being the A74(M) retained its number, so the M6 now just goes a further 6 miles to Gretna. Whgat was the A74 was converted to 3 lanes at this junction as shown below:-