In response to the Highways Agency consultation on improvements to the Catthorpe Interchange near Rugby, where the M1, M6 and A14 meet, the Freight Transport Association says that the most appropriate, and only really viable, proposal is provided by the Blue Junction and Green Local Road Network plan which allows for the movement of vehicles in all directions. FTA says that this option would have the most impact in providing for long distance traffic and would help reduce existing congestion and queues. At the same time it can be anticipated that construction of this proposal would also make substantial improvements in road safety.
The Blue Junction and Green Local Road Network plan would allow for the movement of vehicles in all directions between the M1, M6 and A14, and allow vehicles to travel between the A14 and M1 southbound in both directions, which is not presently possible. Traffic flow statistics show that, at present, there are a significant number of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) travelling along the A14 westbound. This number is likely to increase due to the projected growth in container traffic at the port of Felixstowe and the need to move freight into the middle of the country. Currently, large numbers of HGVs are travelling to the industrial estates just south of M1 junction 19, notably to Daventry, where many national distribution hubs are based. These vehicles are presently obliged to travel to Junction 1 of the M6 and then 'U' turn for Daventry, a journey that adds an additional five miles with all of the associated time and cash costs, waste of expensive fuel, and increase in emissions.
FTA's Head of Policy for the Midlands, Stephen Kelly, said, 'Catthorpe Interchange has a notoriously poor safety record. Vehicles exiting the M6 to access the A14 frequently cut in on other drivers on the M6 slip road. Whilst much of this can be attributed to poor driving standards, an 'all movements' junction would alleviate this problem as new direct links would be provided between the M6 to A14 in both directions, thus removing the current need to exit the M6 and travel under the M1 to access the A14.
'The combination of reduced congestion, faster journey times and improved road safety benefits mean that the Blue Junction and Green Local Road Network option is undoubtedly the most practical and efficient proposal for this substantial traffic problem, and must have the most significant and welcome cost/benefit measure.'
In preparing its response to this consultation FTA sought the views and advice of members of its West Midlands and East Midlands Freight Councils, who operate and manage large numbers of vehicles regularly crossing this junction.