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The M11 motorway in Englandmarker is a major road running approximately north from the North Circular Roadmarker (A406) in South Woodfordmarker in north-east Londonmarker to the A14, north-west of Cambridgemarker.


The M11 starts in north London at the North Circular heading north to the M25 and then passing to the east of Harlowmarker and Bishop's Stortfordmarker and to the west of Stansted Airportmarker ending at a junction with the A14 to the west of Cambridge.

The motorway has three lanes both ways from shortly after junction 4 up until junction 8 (the Stansted Airport junction), except for a brief two lane section at J6 beneath the M25. From junction 8 the road is two lanes both ways to junction 14 where it ends.

The motorway is illuminated at the southern terminus near junction 4, at junction 6 (M25 interchange), junction 8 (Stansted Airport/Bishop's Stortford), and the northern terminus at junction 14(A14). All four of these sections use modern high pressure sodium (SON) lighting. The older yellow low pressure sodium (SOX) lighting originally used at junctions 4 and 6 was replaced in 2005.



In 1966 it had been intended that the motorway would follow a different route out of London, starting at Dalstonmarker and heading north-east to Walthamstowmarker then north past Chingfordmarker and Waltham Crossmarker to meet the current alignment north of Harlow. At this time the proposed section of the motorway from South Woodford to Islingtonmarker would have been the designated as the M12. It was intended to connect to a number of other motorways in north-east London as part of the London Ringways Plan. Most of this plan was canceled in the early 1970s.

The M11 was also planned to start at The Angel, Islingtonmarker nearer central London where it would have met the Inner Ring Road and the A1marker. From there it would have run east alongside the Regent's Canal and the north side of Victoria Parkmarker to an interchange at Hackney Wickmarker where it would have connected to the North Cross and East Cross Routes at the north-east corner of the London Motorway Box (Ringway 1 of the Ringways Plan).

The proposed section of the current M11 design from Hackney Wick through Leytonmarker, Leytonstonemarker, Snaresbrookmarker to South Woodford was never built to motorway standard and as a consequence the motorway currently starts at junction 4. One clue to the location of the unbuilt southern section of the M11 is the bridge over seemingly nothing along the current northbound A406 to M11 "slip-road".

At the start of the current M11 at junction 4 at South Woodford it would have connected with the eastern end of a proposed M12 motorway to Essex and also with the planned M15 motorway (Ringway 2) which was an upgrade to the North circular to motorway standard. When the southern end of the current M11 was finally constructed, space was provided between the two carriageways to enable the M12 carriageways to merge with it and the M15.


The motorway was opened in stages. The stretch between Junctions 7 and 8 opened in 1975, that between Junctions 4 and 7 (constructed to the south of the future M25 interchange by W & C French Engineering, and to north of the future M25 interchange by Dowsett Engineering Construction Ltd of Harrogate, Yorkshire) in 1977. Continuing away from London, the Junctions 8 to 9 section opened in 1979 and that between Junctions 9 and 14 in 1980, the full length between the edges of London and Cambridge becoming fully operational in February 1980.

During the 1970s when the road was built budgets were tight, and as a consequence unsurfaced concrete was used between Junction 14 and a point approximately two miles to the south of Junction 7. South of this stretch, where the road runs on soft ground close to the River Rodingmarker, concrete was considered unsuitable due to the looseness of the subsoil and the consequent risk of random cracking, so the road surface here was of tarmac from the start.

The M11 Link Road (Wansteadmarker to Hackney Wickmarker), now designated the A12marker, was opened in 1999 on a route similar to that of the planned M11 route. This highly controversial project resulted in the protracted M11 link road protestmarker between 1993 and 1995, one of a number of major road protests in the UK during the 1990s.

A Government plan to add north-facing connections at Junction 5 (Loughtonmarker) was deleted in 1998.

During the late 1990s and early years of the twenty-first century the concrete surface further north – which had become seriously degraded – was progressively replaced with modern tarmac. Necessary drainage improvements were implemented at the same time. The only remaining concrete surfaces left on the motorway as of 2007 were a five mile stretch from Junction 8 northwards and a 0.9 mile stretch between Junctions 5 and 6. The former was due to be replaced in the latter part of 2007; the replacement of the latter was completed in June 2008.

An additional junction, Junction 8A, opened in December 2002.

Future plans

As part of the plans for the proposed expansion of Stansted Airportmarker the Highways Agency has been working with BAA on improvements to transport access to the airport including two proposals for the M11.

M11 Junctions 6 to 8 improvements

Proposals were made to upgrade the M11, between junction 6 and 8, from 3 lane carriageway to 4 lane carriageway with an estimated cost of £698 million given in 2007.A number of public consultations were made throughout 2007 and although efforts were made to limit environmental damage the scheme would cause disruption to three designated ecological areas and a Site of Special Scientific Interest at Gernon Bushes. Maps of the proposal and previously discounted options have were published by the Highways Agency. Plans where abandoned in March 2009 when the Secretary of State for Transport announced that no changes would be made to this section of motorway before 2021.

M11 and A120 Stansted Generation 2 Airport access

A joint scheme involving works on junctions on the M11 and A120. It proposes that changes would be made to junction 8 of the M11 with the creation of junction 8b, linked to and situated just north of junction 8/8a and the creation of a new junction on the A120, to provide additional access to Stansted Airport. The scheme was given an estimated cost of £131 million in May 2008. Throughout 2007 a number of public consultations and exhibitions were held. Findings from these showed that although the public had several concerns regarding environmental impact 57% of attendees agreed the scheme would be necessary if the Stansted Airport expansion proceeded. Following the public consultation the Preferred Route was published on 5 March 2008 and Draft Orders on 27 March 2008. A pre-public inquiry meeting took place on 10 November 2008 with a public inquiry due in April 2009. However, this was delayed until further notice following BAA's appeal against the March 2009 ruling of the Competition Commission.


Plane crash

In June 2002, a brake failure on an Aero L-39 Albatross landing at Imperial War Museummarker caused the plane to run off the end of the runway and down the embankment on to the motorway. The trainee pilot was killed when he ejected from ground level but the instructor survived the accident and no vehicles on the motorway were involved. The main runway at Duxford had been shortened in 1977 from to when the motorway was built. More recently even though Duxford already met all licensing requirements, the declared length was reduced to to further increase safety.

Snow storm

In January 2003, thousands of motorists became stranded for up to 20 hours between junctions 7 & 9 during a snowstorm. 


Datafrom driver location signs are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information.
M11 Motorway
km Southbound exits (B Carriageway) Junction Northbound exits (A Carriageway)
12.1 North Circular A406 marker , West Endmarker
The Citymarker, Docklandsmarker, Blackwall Tunnelmarker (A12marker), A406 Southmarker
J4 Start of motorway
18.4 No access J5 Loughtonmarker A1168
23.6 M25 Westmarker, Watfordmarker , Oxfordmarker , Heathrow Airportmarker , M3
M25 Eastmarker, Maidstonemarker , Gatwick Airport ,
J6 Hatfield, Dartford, Maidstone
30.7 Chelmsfordmarker, Harlowmarker A414 J7 Harlow A414
46.5 Stansted Airportmarker, Bishop's Stortfordmarker A120
Birchanger Green services
Stansted Airport, Bishop's Stortford A120,
Birchanger Green services
47.0 No access J8a Stansted Airport A120
69.7 No access J9 Newmarketmarker, Norwichmarker A11
73.9 Saffron Waldenmarker, Duxfordmarker, Haverhillmarker A505marker J10 Roystonmarker, Duxford A505
81.7 Roystonmarker A10marker
Cambridgemarker A1309marker
J11 Harston A10marker
Cambridgemarker A1309marker
85.9 Cambridge, Sandymarker A603 J12 Cambridge, Sandy A603
88.6 No access J13 Cambridge, Bedfordmarker A1303
90.4 Start of motorway J14 The SOUTH, Cambridge, Newmarket A14
The SOUTH, Cambridge, Newmarketmarker A14
Non-motorway traffic
Road continues as A14 towards Huntingdon

See also


  1. BBC News - Motorway reopened after jet crash
  2. Duxford Airfield
  3. Accident Report
  4. BBC - Thousands trapped in snow storm, 31 January 2003
  5. Driver Location Signs (map) Highway Authority 2009

External links

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