M6 Closure J17 - J16 Southbound, Cheshire. Monday 22 December 2014

The M6 in Cheshire was closed on Mon­day 22 Decem­ber south­bound between J17 and J16 due to an acci­dent involv­ing three cars and a Heavy Goods Vehi­cle. Per­sons were reported trapped and as a result of the impact diesel from the HGVs fuel tank was spread onto the car­riage­way which required clean­ing up to pre­vent dam­age to the road sur­face and to make the road safe to use.

At around 14:40 our High­ways Agency Traf­fic Offi­cers along with North West Motor­way Police Group (NWMPG) attended an acci­dent reported to be located on the M6 south­bound between J17 and J16. Upon arrival, and fol­low­ing an ini­tial assess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion, lanes 1 and 2 (of 3) were closed. Our North West Regional Con­trol Cen­tre Offi­cers set signs and sig­nals to warn motorists of the inci­dent and the clo­sures that had been insti­gated.  Fol­low­ing a fur­ther eval­u­a­tion of the seri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion, which took into account the injuries sus­tained by the occu­pants of  some of the vehi­cles involved, cou­pled with the dis­cov­ery of the diesel leak, a deci­sion was made to close the M6 between J17 and J16. This occurred circa 15:30. A sym­bol led diver­sion was put in place with traf­fic  being diverted to fol­low the Hol­low Cir­cle sym­bol led diver­sion exit­ing the M6 at J17 to fol­low the A534 west­bound, the A5020 south­bound, the A500 east­bound to rejoin the M6 at J16.

Cheshire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice reported that there were 4 per­sons reported trapped and their efforts were cen­tred around extri­cat­ing these indi­vid­u­als from the vehi­cles involved. At least 1 seri­ous injury was reported. The HGV involved was leak­ing diesel onto the car­riage­way and con­trac­tors work­ing for the High­ways Agency were requested to attend scene to deal with this. An Air Ambu­lance attended and con­veyed a casu­alty to hospital.

At 17:15 hours we were able to open lane 3, keep­ing lanes 1 and 2 closed as emer­gency ser­vices on scene con­tin­ued to deal with the inci­dent. Delays at this time had reached 120 min­utes. The spillage of vehi­cle fuel (diesel), brake fluid, hydraulic oil, and vehi­cle col­li­sion debris was exten­sive and cov­ered a dis­tance of  approx­i­mately 100 meters which would require exten­sive clean up oper­a­tions. A mechan­i­cal sweeper was requested to scene to carry this out.

Delays were con­tin­u­ing to lengthen and at circa 19:00hrs had reached 4 hours in length (the peak delays recorded for the inci­dent). Our National Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre (based in the West Mid­lands) mon­i­tored the sit­u­a­tion closely. Strate­gic diver­sions were con­sid­ered (dis­played on the Vari­able Mes­sage Signs) to route traf­fic along the A628 and the M62. The for­mer was not put into place due to there being strong winds on the A628 and speed restric­tions in place and the lat­ter due to the exces­sive extra dis­tance cus­tomers would need to travel if head­ing south.

At 19:35 grit­ting oper­a­tions to clean the road sur­face were almost com­plete and the vehi­cles  involved in the acci­dent had been recov­ered. We were finally able to reopen all lanes, sat­is­fied that the south­bound car­riage­way was safe for our cus­tomers to use. Con­ges­tion at this time extended back to Knutsford ser­vices. Through­out the inci­dent we endeav­oured to keep motorists updated and used our break­ing news web­site and Twit­ter feeds to dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion as it developed.

There were also road­works planned on the evening, due to be put in place at 1900, with all entry and exit slips at J17 to be closed. Mind­ful of the fact that motorists had already endured the incon­ve­nience of the lengthy delays caused by the acci­dent  we made the deci­sion to post­pone the road­works until mid­night, when the delays would have dissipated.

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