Gibraltar Airport, where a busy road runs through the runway

A Busy Public Road Runs Right Through This Airport Runway

A Busy Public Road Runs Right Through This Airport Runway

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Nov. 18 2014 12:43 PM

A Busy Public Road Runs Right Through This Airport Runway

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The airport runway (running horizontally) and Winston Churchill Avenue intersect.

Photo: David Stanley/Creative Commons

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Space is at a premium in tiny Gibraltar—so much so that the British territory’s only airport runway intersects with its busiest road. Cars traveling along Winston Churchill Avenue must stop for planes several times a day. For about 10 minutes, traffic stays at a standstill to allow a flight to depart for—or arrive from—London, Birmingham, or Manchester.

In 2007 the government released plans for a new four-lane road that would divert traffic through a tunnel under the runway, although cars would not be required to use it. The road, scheduled to open in 2009, has still not been completed.

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The airport is, by necessity, small. The Spain-Gibraltar border lies just north of the runway. South of the runway, in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar, is North Front cemetery, the only graveyard in the territory where burials are still conducted.

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A plane landing as stopped traffic looks on.

Photo: Tony Evans/Creative Commons

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The Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción, the airport and the cemetery, viewed from Gibraltar's Great Siege Tunnels.

Photo: David Jones/Creative Commons

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The airport is within walking distance from the Rock of Gibraltar.

Photo: Tony Evans/Creative Commons

Other risky runways:

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.