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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