A1 Closure Southbound, Lincolnshire. Tuesday August 04 2015
The A1 in Lincolnshire was closed southbound between the A607 (Melton Mowbray) and the A606 (Stamford) throughout Tuesday August 04 due to a lorry fire. The fire caused extensive damage to the carriageway with the road remaining closed overnight for emergency resurfacing work.
At approximately 08:20 systems at our National Traffic Operations Centre in Birmingham detected abnormal delays on the A1 near Greetham/Stretton. They passed the information on to our East Midlands Regional Control Centre to investigate, who quickly contacted both Lincolnshire Police and Leicestershire Police to make further enquiries. Leicestershire Police confirmed they were assisting Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service with an incident that involved 2 HGVs that were on fire. Leicestershire Police also confirmed that the road was blocked within a junction and that traffic was diverting via the exit and entry slip roads of that junction. Furthermore this was likely to be the case for some time. Our East Midlands Regional Control Centre notified our National Team in Birmingham who began disseminating this information out to you. They set variable message signs across the region and further afield in the north to warn you of the incident and our National Incident Liaison Officers began briefing the local and national media. They also used our social media channels to push this information out to you and published a high impacting “Breaking News” message across all of our digital platforms.
As this road is not routinely patrolled by Highways England Traffic Officers, our contractors were initially dispatched to assist the fire and police service on scene with traffic management resources. To keep traffic moving and because of the where the HGVs were located, the police were able to divert traffic “up and over” the B668 Stretton junction. Despite the best efforts of those on scene delays continued to build on approach to the closure reaching 60 minutes above what they would have normally been at that time of day. To improve this situation we deployed Highways England Traffic Officers to close the road near Grantham so that we could utilise the signed strategic diversion using the A607 to Melton Mowbray and A606 to Stamford. Our East Midlands Regional Operations Manager took the strategic decision to utilise the diversion to help reduce delays and improve journey times for road users.
At 12:30 our Traffic Officers had established the closure at Grantham and the strategic diversion route was being used. This action allowed the A1 southbound delays to stabilise and not increase significantly, which in turn allowed the recovery agents for the vehicle to get scene more quickly, as they were reported as being stuck in the tailbacks. Throughout the early afternoon the delays reduced a little as more approaching traffic was diverted away from the incident via the A607 diversion route. By 15:30 in the afternoon it was formally declared by our contractors in attendance that the carriageway would have to be resurfaced. Logistical arrangements for equipment and plant for the operation were planned whilst the protracted recovery operation was ongoing during the late afternoon.
The fire wreckage brought a number of challenges to the recovery operators and extracting the vehicles from the scene took time and precision. During the late afternoon and into the early evening the A1 southbound delays increased to their peak. Highways England published regular updates for the delays and tweets were regularly issued to inform customers. Strategic Variable Message Signing in other regions of the country, namely the North West and North East regions of the country carried appropriate messages to inform strategic traffic which may have been considering to take the A1 southbound route. Finally by 20:15 all the recovery work was done and the scene was clear to allow our contractors to commence work to restore the carriageway. This coincided with evening peak traffic diminishing and delays were reported as fully cleared by 21:00. Our East Midlands Regional Control Centre liaised with both Lincolnshire and Leicestershire Police during the late evening and into the early hours as the diversion route remained in place due to the extensive operation at the B668 junction. With regret the original ‘up and over’ diversion could not be re-established due to the road-space required for the resurfacing as it would have been unsafe to do so, therefore the strategic diversion via the A607/A606 remained in operation. Throughout the night the resurfacing was carried out by our contractors and following completion of works the closure was removed and the A1 southbound carriageway was fully re-opened at 04:10 on Wednesday morning.
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