8 Insanely Complicated Junctions Around The World

Road transport is the most common form of transportation in nearly every country around the World. Billions of people hit the streets daily to get to work, school and many other places. The convenience of hopping into a car and just driving to your destination without the need of sticking to timetables or the plans of other people makes it immensely popular.

The global road network has an estimated length of 32 million kilometres (20 million miles) according to the IRF 2017 World Road Statistics 2016 [1]. This means that there are loads of different roads and streets that need to intersect to allow the traffic to flow from one to another. As a result, there are lots of interchanges and junctions which are necessary to let motorists change roads.

Some of these interchanges are incredibly complicated. In this article, we will be listing eight of these and we have a strong feeling all of them confuse drivers daily.

1. Kreuz Kaiserberg (Duisburg, Germany)

Kreuz Kaiserberg junction

We start with a relatively simple junction as compared to the rest below. It is the Kaiserberg intersection in Northwestern Germany just east of the city of Duisburg (Location). It connects the A3 Autobahn (one of the longest motorways in Germany) to the A40 Autobahn. On the right-hand side of the visualization, you can see a folded diamond type junction (or half-cloverleaf as some call it) which adjoins the main motorway interchange, making it a little more complex.

It was completed in 1969 and nowadays approximately 200 thousand vehicles pass through it every day. [2]

2. Nanpu Bridge interchange (Shanghai, China)

Shanghai Interchange
Nanpu bridge exchange at night from above [3]

This interchange is probably the most interesting one architecturally. It features the highway descending from Shanghai’s Nanpu Bridge with a double loop. This interestingly shaped junction is a result of space constraints. There was no room to build a proper ramp for the Nanpu Bridge. Therefore drivers have to do two full circles before entering or exiting the bridge.

3. Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange (Los Angeles, U.S.)

Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange

This is the first intersection on this list from the United States. It is a complete interchange meaning that you have the freedom to exit the junction in any direction after entering it. That is not a bad thing considering L.A. has one of the biggest traffic problems in the World. It connects two major interstates, the I-110 and the I-105. But the most fascinating fact perhaps is that it is over 130 feet (40 m) tall. [4]

4. Newark Airport Interchange (Newark, United States)

Newark Airport Interchange

This one is a true beast. It is a massive interchange of I-78, U.S. Route 22, New Jersey Route 21, U.S. Route 1/9, and I-95 near Newark, New Jersey (Location). The interchange connects Newark Airport to Downtown Newark and also Manhattan, NYC. It’s importance thus cannot be underestimated. Sure taxi drivers have got used to it over the decades but for an average driver, it’s certainly not a dream to navigate through this asphalt jungle.

5. Magic Roundabout (Swindon, UK)

Magic roundabout Swindon

This junction is not a motorway one. It is located near the city centre of Swindon, England and it’s the meeting point of 5 regular roads. This mega-roundabout contains 5 mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central, anticlockwise (!) roundabout. It may seem utterly complicated for the first time, but it’s actually very efficient.

According to [5], the Magic Roundabout provides a better throughput of traffic than various other designs and has a near-perfect safety record, since traffic moves too slowly to cause serious damage in the event of a collision.

The name of the junction comes from a popular children’s television programme in the seventies of the same name.

6. M25/M11 junction (England)

M25/M11 junction

This junction is not the most complicated on our list but it may well be the prettiest. It provides the connection between two very high traffic British motorways, the M11 and the M25 (London Orbital). The M11 is the road that links London’s second third [8] busiest airport (Stansted) to the city itself. The M25 is one of Europe’s most congested motorways because it is the ring road around London.

The most interesting thing about it is that if you want to proceed right in the junction, you have to make a sharp left turn first in all cases.

7. Springfield Interchange (Virginia, United States)

Springfield Interchange

Another fascinatingly tangled concrete maze from the United States. This interchange is located just south of Washington D.C.  in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is the mega-junction of Interstate 95, Interstate 395, and Interstate 495.

The average traffic numbers show that 300,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily [6]. If you stacked that many cars on top of each other, the tower would reach 1.5 times higher than the International Space Station.

8. Gravelly Hill Interchange (Birmingham, England)

Gravelly Hill Interchange

This interchange in Birmingham is also referred to as the “Spaghetti Junction” in the UK. This is quite important because it is often cited as the namesake for the whole category of complicated junctions.

It is the meeting point of the M6 motorway and the A38(M) road, both insanely busy. (Location on Google Maps)

Which junction was your favorite? Do you know of any more we could feature in our future articles? Let us know in the comments below!


[1]: IRF 2017 World Road Statistics 2016 (Geneva: International Road Federation)


[3]: Image credits: Alvachien on Flickr




7: All visualizations were built and generated based on data from OpenStreetMap: © OpenStreetMap contributors

[8]: Thanks to reddit user ill_tonkso for noticing the mistake there.

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