Where is it?
The main dual carriageway route between the M65 (and thus the heavily populated Calder valley) and Greater Manchester. A few miles to the south, the A56 becomes the M66. Here, a dual carriageway spur to Rawtenstall leaves the route.
It was spotted by Bryn Buck.
What's wrong with it?
It is, basically, the wrong way round. With just half a mile's warning, the entire A56 and all its traffic must turn off to the left, while the priority route straight ahead dawdles into Rawtenstall just a couple of miles further along. Coming south, the already busy A56 must give way to the A682. This is no way for a high standard trunk route to behave. Shame on you, A56.
Why is it wrong?
The Edenfield bypass, built in the late 60s, took the A56 onto a new dual carriageway alignment and this new road terminated on the existing A56 in Rawtenstall. The Haslingden bypass came along a bit later, connecting to the A56 at this fork junction, taking the number A682. All was well.
However, when the M65 was built in the 1980s, a new bit of road was built connecting the end of the Haslingden bypass to the motorway, and the A56 was rerouted that way, giving Rawtenstall a very wide berth, and causing it to veer off to the side at this junction. Whoops.
What would be better?
This could actually be a very cheap fix — rebuilding the junction would be costly and difficult given the local geography, but no such drastic solution is needed. For a start better signage would help avoid the frantic last-second lane changes by telling motorists what's about to happen. Then the road could be re-marked to make the left-hand lane dedicated to the A56, and the right hand lane split between A56 and A682. Southbound, the A682 could be dropped to one lane so that only one lane of the incoming A56 needs to merge.
Right to reply
The frantic lane changes you refer to when wanting to take the left hand lane onto the A56 are executed by drivers who do know the junction is there but seem they have to queue jump just to get ahead of that extra vehicle or two!
What is not discussed is the traffic southbound from the M65 on the A680 bypass wanting to travel towards Rawtenstall, Bacup and beyond has to come off the dual carriageway, and travel down a narrow residential road (A681 Haslingden Road) to the big Rawtenstall roundbout which gets so busy in rush hour with buses and parked cars. Why couldn't they have added a filter lane from the bypass direct onto the A682 approach to Rawtenstall? In fact, even better, they should have made it connect direct to the Rawtenstall Bocholt Way bypass, perhaps with an underpass out coming out on the Burnley Road.
To make matters with this interchange worse, drivers using Sat-Nav get sent the wrong direction. Mapping data (supplied by TeleAtlas) on Navman devices has not captured all the necessary layout information for routing through this unusual junction. When travelling North on the A56 and intending to continue on the A56, as you are already aware, one has to turn-off for the A56 to remain on the A56.
At this point during a Sat-Nav guided journey it is traditional for a well spoken lady (or gentleman) to prompt you to "Exit Left" - not on this trip. The weird road layout has not been fully translated and the Sat-Nav forgets to tell you to "Exit Left" for the A56.
Meanwhile, poor unsuspecting driver has sailed straight on and is now halfway to Rawtenstall. Old Sat-Nav suddenly wakes up and realises that it is now on the A682. You will then be sent on an intricate guided tour of Rawtenstall and Haslingden to get you back-on-track (TM). I have experienced this error on Navman devices (ICN520 & N40i) but it may affect other manufacturers too (like TomTom) if the fault is in the Map Data they are supplied with.
It took me a few attepts to remember to use this junction when driving to my Girlfriend's new house in Nelson.
My Toyota Yaris's built in Sat-Nav only tells me that it's 3 miles to the next roundabout at the split. The mapping data is slightly out of date, so it's not totally it's fault.
The turn really needs to be signed better from earlier on.
The Highways Agency has missed a golden opportunity to sort out the northbound approach with this junction - there is a major repair scheme to replace aging street lighting and surfacing but it only commences from where the A56 peels off towards Haslingden!
Maybe next time...
Since my last grumble I can say that during the period of works I had the pleasure of being driven into not once, but twice by traffic ignoring the temporary speed limit and narrow lanes and hitting the back of the queue...
Of course, we can now eliminate this entry from Bad Junctions as the newly installed 50mph speed limit and "queues likely" signs on all approaches has made the capacity and lane cutting problems vanish overnight, especially now there are new shiny streetlights to make it easier to see the queue you've just driven into.
It has become so annoying to use this junction in the AM peak that many drivers are now rat-running through Haslingden on the A680 - the exact reason the bypass was built in the first place.
Sort it out someone.
This is another of those half do the job then change your mind schemes, such as the southern end of the M53 in Cheshire.
The now A682 through Rawtenstall and Burnley was originally the A56 all the way from Bury to Colne and beyond in each direction.
During the 1960s it was intended to replace the entire then A56 between Bury and Brierfield, north of Burnley, by a new dual-carriageway route. The Edenfield by-pass was the first section to be built, which terminated temporary in the large roundabout just west of Rawtenstall town centre. The next stage, Bury to Ramsbottom, evolved into what is now the M66.
From Rawtenstall it was intended to by-pass Crawshaw Booth and then follow a new line to the junction of the Burnley by-pass (A646) and the then A56. A new route from there, passing to the east of Burnley town centre, to rejoin the original A56 south of Brierfield was planned to replace the steep hill down into Burnley from the A646 by-pass.
However, with the coming of the M65 and later the A680 bypass of Accrington, the plans for a replacement A56 north of Rawtenstall were abandonned, a by-pass of Haslingden, from the end of the local spur from the A56 to the start of the Accrington by-pass, filled the gap in the through route. Unfortunately that resulted in the planned through route into Rawtenstall becoming a local spur and a local spur to Haslingden becoming the through route, with their junction being laid out back to front!
I travel through here every night returning to the Rossendale Valley. I am continually baulked by drivers trying to cut in to left lane at the last possible second. Although good, legal fun can be had by staying in left lane and continuing to Rawtenstall and trapping a late cutter on the A682, requiring a 6 mile detour!
The option suggested of making the "straight on" A682 a "right turn" is the perfect answer. But making a right turn off a dual carriageway must be too radical a move for the Highways Agency. Similar things work perfectly well in the USA - though I did fall victim to it once!!
To be quite honest and simple, the easiest and admittedly not the cheapeast option would be to extend the M66 to meet the M65 but that will never happen... such a shame really!
The 50mph speed limit has been in place for a year now and still hasn't changed anything and if it wasn't for some nice people in Whitehall ruining the lives of speed camera operators everywhere I think we could have seen yellow vultures here next before anyone actually attacked the layout and made it better...
I think it's time the HA remarked the northbound exit so that lane 1 was dedicated off, and lane 2 splits. With the reduced speed limit, reduced standards can be employed.
Fun fact: the "Traffic Island: Stay In Lane" sign on the southbound carriageway was demolished in a collision. Good to see that high friction surfacing worked then.
I'm sorry everyone, I hate this junction so much it brings out my internal Jeremy Clarkson. I want to smash it with a hammer.
What you fail to take into accounts is the geographical location of the junction. It's called the Rossendale Valley ,It is where the River Irwell starts which you can see out of your window going through the Junction.
The Haslingden Bypass is built partially on the old East Lancashire Railway line there. The Rawtenstall junction is poor but there are very few options shy of a possible widening.
Chris HAS actually pointed that out- ''rebuilding the junction would be costly and difficult given the local geography''. However, they now seem to have listened to his advice regarding southbound traffic on the A682 and have reduced it to one lane (though it still means traffic ends up in the outside lane which can be a pain especially for restricted speed hgvs, as they need to get over to the left as soon as possible). They don't appear to have yet taken his advice for northbound A56 traffic at the split though, which to my mind would be a perfectly good solution to the current problem there.
I've been this way many times since moving to the North West in 1995, and it really is an awful junction, but rarely a hold-up. The worst bit of it is trying to find your way to the Tesco built on the site of an old retail emporium. You see the sign, but can't see any way to get there !!