M62 Closure J24-J22 Both Directions, West Yorkshire. Wednesday 29 April 2015

The M62 in West York­shire was closed in both direc­tions between junc­tions J24-J22 due to a seri­ous col­li­sion involv­ing 2 HGVs. The HGVs both crossed from the west­bound car­riage­way through the cen­tral bar­rier and in to lane 3 of the east­bound car­riage­way. One seri­ous and one minor injury were reported. There was a sig­nif­i­cant amount of cen­tral bar­rier dam­age and debris across all lanes of both carriageways.

At approx­i­mately 14:29 West York­shire police noti­fied our North East Regional Con­trol Cen­tre that they were get­ting reports of a seri­ous col­li­sion involv­ing 2 HGV’s. Early reports sug­gested that both the HGVs had crossed through the cen­tral bar­rier and traf­fic in the area was at a stand­still. The loca­tion was noted as being close to the Scam­mon­den Reser­voir, a local well known land­mark. Our Regional Con­trol Cen­tre oper­a­tors quickly found the inci­dent on CCTV and relayed what they saw to our emer­gency ser­vices col­leagues. They imme­di­ately set signs and sig­nals on both car­riage­ways prior to the inci­dent to warn those in the area what was ahead of them. Our national teams based in Birm­ing­ham set strate­gic vari­able mes­sage signs across the region and fur­ther afield to warn those head­ing towards the area that there was a seri­ous inci­dent and that they should choose alter­na­tive routes. We broad­cast the infor­ma­tion to you via social media and our web­site ser­vices. We ensured the local and national media were aware includ­ing local radio sta­tions so that as many of you as pos­si­ble were able to make an informed deci­sion and avoid the area.

M62 initial scene

Upon arrival by emer­gency ser­vices, there was con­cern for one of the casu­al­ties and the Air Ambu­lance was deployed. Units from West York­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice were also at the scene to assist West York­shire Police who were lead­ing the response to the col­li­sion.  High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cers were deployed and arrived at the scene at 14:47 to assist our police col­leagues with traf­fic man­age­ment mea­sures. Aside from the acci­dent itself, dam­age to infra­struc­ture was 15 posts and beams of the near­side bar­rier on the west­bound car­riage­way and 50 posts of the cen­tral reser­va­tion bar­rier. This exposed 150 metres of high ten­sion cable which was a sig­nif­i­cant safety concern.

M6 vehicles

Prior to the arrival of the Air Ambu­lance the east­bound car­riage­way did have traf­fic mov­ing in lane 1, how­ever as soon as the ambu­lance was cleared to land on the car­riage­way the road was effec­tively closed at this point.  By 15:35 the traf­fic block of the M62 was for­malised into a full clo­sure. This trig­gered a num­ber of mea­sures includ­ing the clo­sure of J22 east­bound entry slip road, clo­sure of J23 west­bound entry slip road and the for­mal con­ing off and clo­sure of the car­riage­ways them­selves. The pre-existing ‘emer­gency diver­sion route’ for these junc­tions was then acti­vated and broad­cast to cus­tomers via our High­ways Eng­land twit­ter feeds for the North West, North East and York­shire regions and addi­tion­ally pub­lished on the break­ing news page of the High­ways Eng­land Web­site. The diver­sion com­prised of west­bound traf­fic advised to fol­low the solid square sym­bol led diver­sion from J24 via A629, A646, A58 and A672 to re-join M62 at J22, east­bound traf­fic to fol­low the hol­low cir­cle sym­bol led diver­sion from J22 (the reverse of the west­bound route).

By 16:25 in the after­noon delays were one hour with approach­ing queues in both direc­tions up to the diver­sion points. The west­bound queues were back to J25 near Hartshead Moor Ser­vices and east­bound queues extended back towards J21 at Mil­nrow. Dur­ing this time all emer­gency ser­vices and con­trac­tors were work­ing hard car­ry­ing out clean-up and recov­ery work, our high­ways con­trac­tors were car­ry­ing out a num­ber of inspec­tions and safety work. Encour­ag­ingly, by 17:45 we were able to safely re-open lane 1 of the east­bound car­riage­way to alle­vi­ate some of the pres­sure, the west­bound how­ever had to remain closed. Addi­tion­ally there was fur­ther dif­fi­culty with turn­ing some of the HGV’s in the trapped traf­fic. Ear­lier in the after­noon our Traf­fic Offi­cers were co-ordinating the rear­ward relief oper­a­tions to clear vehi­cles caught in the clo­sure. A num­ber of vehi­cles were occu­py­ing the hard­shoul­der and some minor sec­ondary col­li­sion inci­dents ham­pered this oper­a­tion. Ulti­mately a large pro­por­tion of HGV’s had to stack on the west­bound car­riage­way until the road ahead re-opened.

Reopening M62

As the inci­dent con­tin­ued into the early evening and the police inves­ti­ga­tion work and HGV recov­ery oper­a­tions were draw­ing to a close, High­ways Eng­land bar­rier repair crews were hard at work aim­ing to have the west­bound car­riage­way safely re-opened as soon as pos­si­ble. At 20:30 lane 2 of the east­bound car­riage­way was re-opened (later fol­lowed by lane 3) and by this point High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cers were  sweep­ing the west­bound car­riage­way for any HGV’s pos­si­bly bro­ken down or any fur­ther haz­ards in antic­i­pa­tion of the west­bound car­riage­way re-opening.  At 21:15 the J23 west­bound entry slip road was opened and fol­low­ing final checks from J24 — J23, the full clo­sure at J24 west­bound car­riage­way was removed at 21:45.  Dis­sem­i­na­tions and broad­casts were placed via twit­ter and ‘Now Open’ vari­able mes­sage signs were set on strate­gic approaches to the M62. High­ways Eng­land web­sites informed of the road re-opening.

Through­out this inci­dent, High­ways Eng­land updated cus­tomers via our web­site www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/ and via our regional twit­ter feeds @HighwaysNEAST, @HighwaysNWEST and @HighwaysYORKS.

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