Cullompton By-Pass just to the east of this Devon market town was built some years prior to the completion of the southernmost part of the M5 and although not motorway on its opening it was evident that it would form part of the M5 in due course. Junction 28 is on the north eastern outskirts of the town and not only permits access to and egress from Cullompton but directly connects to the somewhat substandard A373 which wends its way to Honiton.
So far so reasonably good. But here's the problem: junction 28 is getting so heavily used that traffic will back right up the slip road to the motorway itself at times. Lorries heading for businesses to the south of the town at Bradninch and Silverton rattle their way through Cullompton's High Street, a thoroughfare designed for the horse and cart age. Understandably locals are getting fed up with the situation and would desperately like to see another two level junction to the south of the town.
In response the Highways Agency point out the downside of too many junctions on a motorway both in terms of disruption of traffic flow and increased accident risk. And of course there is the little matter of paying for a new junction. The Agency also point out that construction of a second junction for a relatively small town like Cullompton goes against National and Regional policies.
Gosh this is a tough one to sort out and I'm glad I don't have to come up with the answer! But this is a good example of the truly massive problems overtaking us in this country - more economic activity, more prosperity, more vehicle movements, more impact on our fragile town buildings and streets, lower quality of life for those in such towns, heavier carbon footprint, these things all follow each other. What is the way out of it? Answers on a very large postcard please!