Happy 40th Birthday Spaghetti Junction! Birmingham landmark ‘may last another 100 years’

Adam Parris-Long

The spiralling twist of roads known as Spaghetti junction celebrates its 40th anniversary today, with the notorious landmark set to last another 100 years, according to engineers.

The urban crawl of roads in Birmingham has undergone extensive maintenance work prior to its anniversary, as more than 200,000 motorists use the system every day. On its opening in 1972 approximately 40,000 vehicles used the interchange.

Spaghetti Junction was originally called Gravelly Hill Interchange but was re-christened after Birmingham-based journalist Roy Smith came up with the pasta-inspired name. Opened on 24 May 1972, Spaghetti Junction took four years to build and cost between £9m and £10m.

Engineers said that ageing concrete pillars and bridge supports which hold up the elevated motorway are being repaired in a manner similar to filling teeth. Using pneumatic drills and high-pressure water sprays, rust and debris is cleared from cracks in the structure before they are plugged up with brand new steel and concrete.

The extensive repairs are expected to last until the end of the year, as the junction covers an area close to 30 acres. Highways Agency staff supervisors can walk as many as 12 to 15 miles a day monitoring the delicate repair work taking place on more than 500 concrete columns supporting the junction.  

“The life of these repairs is at least 40 to 50 years and, if we look after the motorway, there is no reason why it should not be here for another 100,” Highways Agency project manager Mark Collins said.