Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The A1, at 409 miles (658 km) long, is the longest numbered British road. Joining London, the capital city of England, to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, it is also known as the Great North Road. However, where there arises a need to distinguish between the modern road, on its bypasses and some former part of the road, where it passed through the various towns, the name "A1" is sometimes reserved for the modern road, while "the Great North Road" refers to its original course.
(For the numbering rationale, see the Great Britain road numbering scheme.) The original A1 route was designated by the Ministry of Transport in 1921, following the medieval Great North Road from Central London through Barnet, Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn, Stevenage, Baldock, Biggleswade, Sandy, St Neots and Alconbury , then joining the route of a Roman road, Ermine Street, as far as Colsterworth, where it is joined by the A151. The route was modified in 1927 when bypasses were built around Barnet and Hatfield. In 1960 Stamford was bypassed, as was St Neots in 1971.
Continuing north, the A1 runs on modern bypasses around Grantham, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Bawtry, Doncaster, Scotch Corner, Chester-le-Street, past the Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead, around Newcastle upon Tyne, Morpeth, Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, into Scotland, past Dunbar and Haddington before finally arriving in Edinburgh.
Some sections of the A1 have been upgraded to motorway standard. These are known as the A1(M). These include:
- a long stretch between the M25 to just north of Baldock;
- the new four lane Peterborough section from the Alconbury junction near Huntingdon to Orton Southgate near Peterborough;
- a section bypassing Doncaster and intersecting the M18 (this was the first section of motorway on the A1 and only the second to be built in the United Kingdom);
- a short section where the new extended M1 joins the road between Leeds and York;
- a relatively new section through North Yorkshire east of Ripon;
- another long stretch from Scotch Corner to Washington, Tyne and Wear, just south of Newcastle upon Tyne.
New motorway sections are currently being built between Darrington and Hook Moor to join the existing section at the M1 junction, and north of Wetherby to join the existing North Yorkshire section. Further sections are planned, which would ultimately create a single motorway running from Doncaster to Newcastle upon Tyne. Improvements to the road north of Newcastle upon Tyne are also being undertaken where the road consists mostly of single carriageway sections as opposed to a combination of dual carriageway and motorway to the south. This should ultimately lead to the road being dual carraigeway throughout its entire length.
A scheme is in place to replace all junctions between Orton Southgate and Gonerby Moor with grade separated junctions, remove all crossings and breaks in the central reservation, and reduce or eliminate minor turnings.
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