Saturday, May 21

Failed Infrastructure Makes For Great Television

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Fans of BBC television may have noticed that certain high-budget episodes of their favorite series feature huge car crashes and realistic motorway scenes. Those great episodes of television were brought to you by a failed state infrastructure project in a small town in England.

This story was originally published on December 14, 2020

The BBC’s epic motorway filmmaking in shows like Broadchurch or Casualty is regularly made possible by one failed project in particular: an abandoned connector road in the town of Yate in Southern England. YouTuber Tom Scott tells the story of the road and its starring roles in his latest “Amazing Places” video on his YouTube channel:

Construction began on this road in 1974 as an infrastructure project meant to ease traffic by connecting local roads with a large commuter road nearby. As Scott mentions in the video, the local council stopped construction on the road after a spike in the cost of steel that was needed for a planned railway bridge.

Here’s more from the Gazette:

Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall has launched a campaign to finish the building work and open the road to provide the missing arterial link in Yate’s infrastructure.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said he was arranging discussions with the Treasury and Department of Transport, where he will be making the case for Yate and he was ‘hopeful’ of securing the funding.

“The road is symbolic of the feeling that many have shared with me that Yate has been neglected,” said Mr Hall.

“Before I was elected we knocked on doors and the Road to Nowhere came up a lot. There were two main things; public transport and infrastructure in Yate and the feeling that Yate gets left behind and has had no investment.”

Despite reports that citizens still complain about traffic in the parish to this day, the roadway project was never re-started. What remains of the failed infrastructure project is one mostly complete stretch of pavement that connects to nothing. Eventually, it came to be known as the Road to Nowhere.

It’s open to the public, though closed to cars. The stretch of empty UK motorway is available for film or television shoots, however, and has been the location for some of the most expensive scenes in the BBC show Casualty, one of the longest-running medical drama shows in the world. Production crews actually built an overpass spanning the Road to Nowhere for this explosive scene:

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