M4 motorway

M4 motorway

UK motorway routebox
motorway= M4
length-mi= 189.5
length-km= 305.0
direction= East - West
start= Chiswick
destinations= Hounslow
Heathrow Airport
Port Talbot
end= Pont Abraham services
opening-date= 1961
junctions= 4B -
euroroute= European route number small sign|30

Opening timelineImageSize = width:150 height:500Period = from:1 till:49Colors = id:M4 value:rgb(0,0.7,1) id:background value:rgb(0.97265625,0.97265625,0.97265625)BackgroundColors = canvas:backgroundPlotArea = left:60 right:0 top:10 bottom:10TimeAxis = orientation:vertical format:yyyyScaleMajor = start:1 increment:1PlotData = mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:S width:25 shift:(15,0) from:1 till:5 text:1965 color:M4 from:5 till:7 text:1963 color:M4 from:7 till:9 text:1961 color:M4 from:9 till:18 text:1971 color:M4 from:18 till:21 text:1966 color:M4 from:21 till:23 text:1996 color:M4 from:23 till:28 text:1967 color:M4 from:28 till:29 text:1977 color:M4 from:29 till:32 text:1980 color:M4 from:32 till:35 text:1977 color:M4 from:35 till:37 text:1980 color:M4 from:37 till:39 text:1977 color:M4 from:39 till:41 text:1966 color:M4 from:41 till:44 text:1994 color:M4 from:44 till:46 text:1972 color:M4 from:46 till:49 text:1977 color:M4

The M4 motorway is a motorway in Great Britain linking London with Wales. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Other major places directly accessible from M4 junctions are Reading, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea.

The M4 runs close to the A4 from London to Bristol. After crossing the River Severn it follows the A48 through Wales, until its termination just north of Pontarddulais.

Special features

In London, the eastbound (London-bound) M4 carriageway has a bus lane from junction 3 until the elevated section. This lane caused some controversy when it was created. [cite news
title=M-way bus lane gets green light
] However, the bus lane has improved traffic flow onto the 2-lane elevated section which follows it.Fact|date=February 2007 There is some speculation that the original plan involved closing one lane from junction 3 to the elevated section to prevent congestion caused by the filtering of three lanes of traffic into two (the motorway is already temporarily down to two lanes at junction 3 because the left lane is exclusively for traffic leaving the motorway, so the effect of the bus lane is to make the 3-to-2 lane-transition seamless). Making the "spare" lane available for buses - and now taxis and motorcycles - was an afterthought. [cite web
title=M4 Bus Lane

The elevated section in West London, built in the 1960s, is mostly directly above the A4 and extends over parts of Brentford's Golden Mile. This section has a heated road surface to reduce icing in winter.

The motorway is the only one in the UK to feature a 'dual-numbered' junction. Junction '8/9' is the turn off for Maidenhead, Berkshire.

It has two of only three four-level stack interchanges in the UK, including the first UK example at the junction with the M5 (J20/"Almondsbury Interchange") and the other at the junction with the M25 (J4B). Both are impressive feats of engineering, particularly junction 4B which also has to make provision for a railway line passing beneath the M4. However, due to the nature of such junctions, drivers should bear in mind that it is impossible to make a U-turn at J20 or J4B.

The M4 crosses the River Severn via a toll bridge, the second of only two on the UK motorway network – the first was the original Severn Bridge (the original route of the M4, now the M48).

The M4 passes through the Brynglas Tunnels at Junction 25a, Newport.

Near Junction 35, there is a stretch of the motorway that has a surfacing of porous asphalt that improves drainage and reduces noise. When driving in heavy rain conditions drivers notice a reduction in spray from other vehicles and improved visibility. This special surface was publicised in an episode of the BBCs Tomorrow's World programme. This was the site of the first trial of the new road surface when it was laid down in 1993 [ [http://www.hanson.biz/files/pdf/magazine/2006/2006Q4_op.pdf 2006 Fourth quarter foundation magazine - Operations and products ] ] .

Notable junctions

Junction 27 at High Cross is a normal roundabout B-road junction, however the slip roads point in the wrong direction to the destination. Due to the topology of the landscape, both sets of sliproads are conjoined on opposite sides of the roundabout. To go to Cardiff, the driver must use an eastbound-facing sliproad before looping around 180 degrees to join the westbound carriageway.

During the construction of the section around Cardiff in 1980, junction numbers were set aside for intermediate interchanges that were not built at the time. 33 had been set for the link road to the west (A4232), 32 for the A470, with 31 intended for the A469 to Caerphilly, and 30 for the great "Hook Road" - a plan which was later shelved. Junction 30 was later added to serve the A4232 link road, in the east, which will eventually form a ring road from junctions 33 to 30, via Cardiff Bay. Number 31 remains unused as of 2006, and there are no immediate plans to build a junction with the A469.

Contrary to popular belief, junction 39 "does" exist. However, it consists of a single slip road completing the missing movement onto the westbound carriageway from the A48 at junction 38, thus there is no exit from the motorway at this junction.

Junction 41 refers to two different junctions in two different directions, their movements not complementary. In the westbound direction, 41 is indicated as a spur leading to the roundabout in Briton Ferry formerly known as 41A, and the original bridge over the River Neath, which would allow access onto the stretch of the M4 from junction 43 westward. In the eastbound direction, 41 is indicated as an exit-only route to the A48 towards Port Talbot. As a result, it is possible in both directions to travel almost 2 miles (3 km) in the same direction having both joined and subsequently left the motorway at "junction 41".

West of junction 13 on the eastbound carriageway there are a set of sliproads signposted "Works Unit Only". The signs have red borders, implying a military exit. It is a back entrance to RAF Welford, a Second World War airfield and now an RAF/USAF military installment mainly used for storing munitions. The M4 entrance allows easier access for the large vehicles used to carry the munitions.

peed checks

Speed checks are carried out between junction 14 and junction 18 (in both directions). These are carried out by police camera vans situated on bridges over the motorway. These measure the speed of vehicles using laser detection equipment. The introduction of these measures proved controversial and resulted in a public protest, involving a go-slow of several hundred vehicles along the affected sections of the motorway during April 2005.

cite news
publisher=BBC News
title=Drivers hold M4 speed camera demo
date=April 30, 2005


Traffic heading into London travels at a maximum speed of 60 mph (97 km/h) after the Heathrow turnoff, the limit is enforced by cameras. The elevated section is also enforced by speed cameras at 40 mph (64 km/h). Traffic heading out of London is limited to 40 mph (64 km/h) on the elevated section, but there are no cameras.

Speed checks are also carried out by mobile Safety Camera Partnership vans on the toll plaza on the Welsh side of the M4 after the Second Severn Bridge. The speed limit is reduced to 50 mph (80 km/h) when approaching the toll plaza, the theory behind this is to protect tolling staff moving between the tolling booths

cite news
publisher=BBC News
title=Speed cameras slow bridge traffic
date=October 05, 2004

] , the limit is then raised back to the National speed limit after leaving the toll plaza. There are also mobile camera vans on sections of the M4 between the toll plaza and Cardiff.

Between Junction 34 and Junction 37, there are three bridges crossing over the motorway. These three bridges sometimes have mobile speed camera vans parked on them to catch speeding motorists on the motorway below. These bridges are located on fairly sharp bends in the motorway.

The section between junction 40 and junction 41 has a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), and is enforced by a permanent speed camera (Gatso), to be found near junction 41 in the eastbound direction. To improve traffic flow, the westbound speed camera was removed in late 2006 and replaced with an electronic warning sign.cite news
title=Controversial M4 speed camera removed to reduce chronic congestion


Temporary average speed cameras are in operation around Junction 6 at a speed limit of 50 mph; operation commenced westbound on Monday 26 November 2007 while roadworks on the bridge are taking place (expected to last 40 weeks according to signs alongside the carriageway). Eastbound average speed cameras in the same location were operational a short time after that.

Between Junction 29 and Junction 32, there are 2 speed cameras on the westbound carriageway, one just before Junction 30 (it is clearly visible against the junction exit sign), and another under a bridge approximately 1 mile before Junction 32. On the eastbound carriageway, there are 2 cameras, one approximately 1.5 miles after Junction 32 and the other is approximately 1 mile before Junction 30.


As of spring 2007, the stretch between Junction 29 Castleton and J32 Coryton is being widened to 6 lanes in order to relieve congestion that plagues this stretch. Work is expected to be completed by December 2009 [ [http://www.m4widening29to32.com/overview.htm www.m4widening29to32.com] ] .

Junction 11, near Reading, will be extensively developed commencing in Spring 2008 and lasting until well into 2010 in an attempt to relieve congestion. The development will not only build two extra bridges, and re-route many roads by the junction, but will also involve the movement of the local Highways Agency and Fire Service offices, build a long footbridge network, a special bus-lane and a new gyratory. Redevelopment of roundabouts on the A33 and the installation of a new junction off that road will be part of the works. It will also install sound barriers for nearby residential areas, some of which have already been completed.cite news|url=http://icberkshire.icnetwork.co.uk/chronicle/headlines/tm_headline=reading-is-the-fastest-growing-economic-centre-in-uk&method=full&objectid=19433560&siteid=50102-name_page.html|publisher=Reading Chronicle|title=Reading is the fastest-growing economic centre in UK|date=July 10, 2007] In April 2008, the decision to preserve a rare Vickers Machine-gun Pillbox and turn it into a bat roost was announced by the developers. [ [http://www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/m4vmgpillboxpage.htm M4 VICKERS MACHINE GUN PILLBOX, PILLBOX STUDY GROUP ] ]

There have been calls to close the slip roads at Junction 40 and 41 (at Port Talbot) to improve traffic flow in the area. The motorway is only two lanes in this stretch and this stretch is a major traffic congestion blackspot. Junctions 40 and 41 (at Port Talbot) have very short slip roads which are not up to modern standards.cite news
publisher=South Wales Evening Post
date=December 12, 2007
] The Port Talbot peripheral distributor road is under development, which should divert local traffic away from the M4.

The "missing" Junction 31, also known as the Thornhill interchange, which was originally granted planning permission in September 1991 (but subsequently expired)cite news|url=http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/cardiff-news/2007/06/23/council-will-look-again-at-case-for-m-way-link-91466-19345314/|publisher=icwales|title=Council will look again at case for M-way link|date=June 23, 2007] have been rekindled after plans for a new business park on a convert|125|acre|km2|0 site north of the M4 were submitted to Cardiff Council. The developers of the business park, St Modwen Developments, would likely fund the new junction, which would be on the A469cite news|url=http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/business-in-wales/business-news/2007/12/19/business-park-plan-would-hit-green-land-91466-20266885/|publisher=icwales|title=Business park plan ‘would hit green land’|date=December 19, 2007] .

New M4

Plans are progressing for the New M4 Newport bypass. The Welsh Assembly Government Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said "We could start the work in 2010, with an anticipated completion date of 2013." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7003690.stm Plans for the M4 Toll (Newport)] ]


ee also

* New M4
* M4 Thames Bridge, Maidenhead
* A404(M) motorway
* M4 corridor
* List of motorways in the United Kingdom
* A48(M) motorway
* Transport in Wales


External links

* [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m4/ CBRD Motorway Database - M4]
* [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/a404m/ British Road Database: Motorways - M4 Junction 8/9]
* The Motorway Archive
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m4chisslou.htm Junctions 1 to 5]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m4slomai.htm Junctions 5 to 7]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m4londswind.htm Junctions 8 to 14]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m4lswscheme.htm Junctions 14 to 21]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m4sscscheme.htm Junctions 21 to 23]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m4wales.htm Junctions 23 to 49]

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