Most of us know all the roads we currently use like the palm of our hands, even the trickier junctions. But there are some situations, especially when driving through areas we don’t know too well, when stumbling upon such tricky junctions may cause some orientation problems.
And there are some other junctions that are probably a nightmare for everyone driving through them, especially if you’re new to the area. This article is exactly about this type of junctions, as we take a look at some of the world’s most confusing and complicated road junctions and, to be honest, the task of selecting the junctions was not easy at all, because there are magnificent (and scary at the same time) locations all over the world, from Europe to China or Japan and from Russia to South America and the United States. But here’s what we selected as being some of the most complex road junctions.
Gravelly Hill Interchange (Birmingham, United Kingdom)
The Gravelly Hill Interchange is one of the largest and most complicated road junctions in the United Kingdom, connecting the M6 motorway to the A38(M) Aston Expressway. Construction started in 1968 and it was officially opened on May 24, 1972, with the complicated design quickly creating a lot of controversy in the area. Following a story by Birmingham Evening Mail reporter Roy Smith, the junction received the “Spaghetti Junction” nickname, which is still being used today.
If you’re a fan of figures, you should probably know that the junction covers 30 acres of lands, spreads across 5 levels, has 559 concrete columns, serves 18 routes, it reaches 80 ft (24.4 meters) at its highest point and crosses two rivers, three canals and two railway lines.
9 de Julio Avenue (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
This entry on our list is not actually a road junction, but we think it deserves the mention. In case you skipped Spanish classes, the name is Spanish for “July 9 Avenue” and it is the widest avenue in the world. It was named in honor of Argentina’s Independence Day and even though it’s not long (only 0.6 miles), it has up to seven lanes in each direction, with two additional lanes on each side and a two wide median strips between the main road and the side streets.
Despite plans for the avenue being developed as early as 1888, work on the large avenue started in 1935. The first segments were opened on July 9, 1937, but the official inauguration took place in the 1960’s, while the Southern part was completed in the 1980’s. The avenue is connected to the Arturo Illia expressway on the Northern end (which connects to the Pan-American Highway) and to the 25 de Mayo tollway and 9 de Julio expressway on the Southern end.
And if you think is difficult driving on this avenue, being a pedestrian is even worse. Actually, not that complicated, but crossing the avenue can take a few minutes, since there are countless traffic lights.
Place Charles de Gaulle (Paris, France)
Also known as Place de l’Etoile (“Square of the Star” in French), Place Charles de Gaulle is home to one of the world’s best known landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe. The famous monument, which honors those who lost their lives in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars is also located in the middle of one of Paris’ busiest junctions.
The square was initially a junction of several hunting trails, but after roads in the area were paved, it became known as the Place de l’Etoile. The intersection’s current layout was created during the reigh of Napoleon III as part of famous public works program directed by Georges-Eugene Haussmann, who was the prefect of the Seine between 1853 and 1870.
Today, no less than 12 major avenues converge in the Place de l’Etoile, including Avenue des Champs-Elysees, probably one of the most famous avenues in the world. The other ones are Avenue de Wagram, Avenue Hoche, Avenue de Friedland, Avenue Marceau, Avenue d’Iéna, Avenue Kléber, Avenue Victor Hugo, Avenue Foch, Avenue de la Grande-Armée, Avenue Carnot and Avenue Mac-Mahon. Because of the heavy traffic in the roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe, there is no pedestrian access inside the Square and the only way to get to the monument is to use the two underpasses.
Taganskaya Square (Moscow, Russia)
Of course, no article about strange traffic related things would be complete without a mention of mother Russia, a country famous for its weird and twisted traffic, highlighted in the thousands of dash cam videos we see every day. Anyway, Russia’s entry on our list is the Taganskaya Square, a large junction right in the heart of the country’s capital, Moscow.
The square was formed in 1963, when two historic squares, Upper Taganka and Lower Taganka were merged into one large square, in which today you need nerves of steel to drive through. First of all, you must know that each junction in this square (because the junction is actually a sum of “smaller” junctions) has at least six lanes and there is heavy traffic at any time of the day. Combine that with the lack of road signs and the chaotic Russian traffic and you have a place which is “interesting” to drive through, to say the least.
Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange (Los Angeles, United States)
Of course, the United States couldn’t have been left out from our beautiful list and especially California, where many spectacular junctions are found, mainly around the Los Angeles metropolitan area. One of these spectacular junctions is the I-710 and I-105 Interchange, which is an extremely imposing structure.
The interchange was opened in the early 1990s as a connection between the Century Freeway and the Harbor Freeway. At the time of its completion, it was the biggest project built by the California Department of Transportation and the first time three modes of transportation were integrated into one intersection (high occupancy vehicles, passenger cars and light rail trains).
The massive structure was named in honor of Harry Pregerson, who was a district judge during the interchange’s construction and who had a major role in supervising and negotiating settlements of several federal lawsuits against the Century Freeway that eventually allowed work on the interchange to be finished.
Magic Roundabout (Swindon, England)
Well, if the Taganskaya junction we were talking about earlier is a sum of smaller junctions, the Magic Roundabout in Swindon, England is the roundabout equivalent of the Russian square. It was constructed in 1972 after a design by Frank Blackmore and is one of the most complex junctions in Britain.
The Magic Roundabout consists of five smaller roundabouts and its configuration is quite complicated. Traffic in the smaller roundabouts goes in a normal, clockwise direction, while traffic in the larger roundabout goes anti-clockwise. Its name comes from a popular British TV series and in 2009 it was voted as the fourth “scariest junction in Britain” in a poll by breakdown firm Britannia Rescue. Interesting fact that the “winner” of this poll was no other than the Spaghetti Junction we mentioned earlier.
Tom Moreland Interchange (Atlanta, United States)
Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange is not the only American entry on our list, because another great example of a massive junction is the Tom Moreland Interchange near Atlanta, Georgia. Built between 1983 and 1987, the interchange was named after Tom Moreland, a commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation who was one of the leading road building experts in the United States.
As for the stack interchange, it handles daily traffic of around 300,000 vehicles, the highest point is 90 feet high (27 meters) and it has an impressive number of 14 bridges. Another interesting fact about the interchange is that people in the area call it Spaghetti Junction, inspired by the Gravelly Hill Junction we told you about earlier.
London Circuit (Canberra, Australia)
The London Circuit is a road in Canberra, Australia’s capital, which surrounds the city center and intersects several other main roads. Despite it usually being called a road, we’re more inclined to call London Circuit a mega roundabout.
Among the main roads it intersects, there’s the Northbourne Avenue, Edinburgh Avenue, Akuna Street, Constitution Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue. To be honest, the junction doesn’t seem that complicated, but drivers going through the area usually complain about it, saying that it’s quite difficult to navigate around it, especially if you miss the exit you’re looking for.
High Five Interchange (Dallas, United States)
Out of all the junctions we mentioned in this article, the High Five Interchange in Dallas, Texas is probably the most recent one, being inaugurated in 2005. Even though it’s not the only five-level stack interchange in the country, the structure features several unusual design elements that made Popular Mechanics list it as one of strangest roads in the world. However, its design was critically acclaimed by many experts and in 2006 it received the “Public Works Project of the Year” award from the American Public Works Association.
The interchange connects the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway to the Central Expressway, is 120 feet tall (37 meters) and features 37 bridges and 60 miles of highway. Not to mention that at bottom level, the lanes are 20 feet (6 m) below ground level. This means that navigation through the interchange can be a little tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
So how about you? What were the strangest and most difficult road junctions you ever had to face?