This is a nerdy one, of course, but it is not a completely irrelevant side point that Northern Ireland’s road numbering is totally illogical. Recently, for example, the route number ‘A2‘ had to be removed from a gantry sign on the Lagan Bridge because it took drivers off the M3 but away from the ‘A2‘ (Belfast-Bangor road) most of them probably wanted!
A few relatively simple changes would make bring a degree of logic to the system:
– all Mx numbers (with two exceptions) should be re-aligned with their Ax equivalent (thus the M2/M22 shadowing the A6 becomes the M6; the M1 the M4; the M2 Ballymena bypass becomes M26; and so on), noting also that the Westlink can be deemed part of the (new) A4;
– the two exceptions are the aforementioned A2 in Co Down (Belfast-Bangor and then down the peninsula and on around the South Down coast to Newry) should be re-numbered A3 in line with the current M3, and then the current A3 should be re-numbered A12 in line with the current M12 (this conveniently dovetails with the Irish N12);
– all A5xx numbers should be renumbered from A70-A93 (so, all A50x numbers become A7x; all A51x numbers become A8x; and all A52x numbers become A9x);
– duplicates should use A6x (the current detached A4 from The Birches to Portadown becomes A64; the A6 shadowing the M6 may be renumbered A66 to avoid confusion; the A37 is Co Armagh which is a duplicate of the A37 in Limavady should change to A67; there is a case also for the Moira-Lisburn section of the current A3, detached from the section through Craigavon, to be the A63);
– some other odd-ball three-digit numbers could be sorted out too (e.g. A101 could become A51 or A61, as both are free); and
– there is now no need for the number ‘A8(M)‘ (it can be simply ‘M8‘), and the new Newry bypass could be instantly declared a motorway and renumbered ‘M1‘ (as many people think it is anyway!)
Such a re-ordering of motorway numbering would cause an initial confusion, no doubt, but it would be for the sake of easier use in the longer term (and it would also solve the problem of detached numbers, notably the current A3 and A4). Of course, the temptation is to sort the whole thing out and renumber the whole network – but that would come at a significant cost, whereas these relatively minor changes could be carried out with simple Regulations and relatively minor signage alterations.
Motorway junction numbers could also be simplified at this stage, perhaps as follows:
‘M1‘: 7 Sprucefield; 8 Blaris; then as A1: 9 Hillsborough RB; 10 Hillsborough Castle (then perhaps also as A1: 17 Sheepbridge; 18 Carnbane; 19 Newry South; 20 Jonesborough – to match those coming the other way at the border).
‘M2‘: 0 Yorkgate; 1 Nelson St; 2 Fortwilliam RB; 3 Greencastle; 4 Rushpark RB.
‘M3‘: 0 Yorkgate; 1 Titanic; 2 Dee St.
‘M4‘: 0 Yorkgate; as A4: 1 Divis St; 2 Grosvenor Rd; 3 Broadway; as M4: 4 Stockman’s Ln; 5 Black’s Rd; 6 Saintfield Rd; 7 Sprucefield; 8 Blaris; 9 Moira RB; 10 Lough Rd; 11 Ballynacor; 12 The Birches; 13 Derryhubbert; 14 Tamnamore; 15 Stangmore (then perhaps as A4: 16 Mullybrannon; 17 Old Eglish; 18 Eglish; 18A Killybracken; 19 Granville; 20 Killyliss; 21 Reaskmore; 21A Killymoyle; 22 Cabragh Hill; 23 Ballygawley RB).
‘M6‘ as M2 to 3 Greencastle, then: 4 Sandyknowes; 5 Templepatrick; 6 Rathbeg; 7 Crosskennan; 8 Dunsilly; 9 Ballygrooby; 10 Artresnahan (eventually as A6 probably: 11 Moneynick; 12 Toomebridge; 13 The Creagh; 14 The Elk; 15 Castledawson RB).
‘M8‘: 4 Sandyknowes; 5 Corr’s Corner RB (then perhaps as A8: 6 Houston’s Corner RB; 7 Coleman’s Corner RB; 8 Calhame Rd; 9 Ballynure; 10 Ballybracken; 11 Moss Rd; 12 Deerpark Rd; 13 Shane’s Hill).
‘M12‘: 11 Ballynacor; 12 Seagoe.
‘M26‘: 10 Pennybridge; 11 Broughshane; 12 Teeshan; (then perhaps as A26: 13 Clinty; 14 Glarryford; 15 Frosses; 16 Logan’s).
As ever, hat tip Wesley Johnston for such things!