M6 Closure Both Directions, West Midlands. Friday 14 August 2015
The M6 in the West Midlands was closed in both directions between J7 and J6 due to an Articulated Heavy Goods Vehicle crossing over the central reservation barrier from the northbound carriageway to the southbound and colliding with another Heavy Goods vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, subsequently causing damage to the barrier itself and spilling diesel onto the road surface.
At approximately 10:36 our Highways England Regional Control Centre in the West Midlands became aware of a serious incident involving two Heavy Goods vehicles blocking the southbound carriageway of the M6. CCTV images monitored at the control centre showed a large Articulated HGV across two lanes southbound and resting on the central reservation barrier, subsequently overhanging into the northbound carriageway restricting lane availability in this direction also. It soon became apparent that this was going to be a serious incident with extensive clean up and recovery operations required.
Emergency Services were notified and were mobilised by their respective Control rooms. At approximately 10:39 the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG), who were now in attendance, informed the (Highways England) West Midlands Regional Control Centre that they needed the M6 to be closed in both directions to deal with the incident. Our Traffic Officers, already en route, were informed of this instruction and were directed to the appropriate junctions (J7 and J6). By this time West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service and Ambulance Service were arriving at scene. It became apparent around this time that the driver of a flatbed Heavy Goods Vehicle which had been struck by the HGV crossing over carriageways, was trapped in his vehicle and had sustained serious injuries as a result of the impact. A large amount of debris had been strewn across the carriageway, and the diesel tank of one of the HGVs had been ruptured, spilling its contents onto the road surface thus exacerbating the situation.
A robust diversion route was instigated by the West Midlands Regional Control Centre (Highways England) with traffic leaving at J7, to follow the Hollow Diamond symbol, taking the A34 southbound to the A4540 Newtown Middleway, and then heading eastbound to access the A38M northbound at Dartmouth Circus which re-joins the M6 at J6. Northbound traffic was to follow the above route in reverse leaving at J6 and following the Hollow Square symbol.
At 11 :11 a total of 3 Fire Appliances, 2 Ambulances and 5 Police cars were confirmed as being in attendance, with a further 2 ambulances mobilised. It was apparent that this would be a protracted incident with the trapped driver requiring extrication by Fire Crews on scene and removal to hospital. Around this time trapped traffic on the northbound carriageway was being released, with vehicles caught within the closure on the southbound carriageway also being turned and released by our Traffic Officers.
The incident continued to be managed effectively with the closures now in place and the diversion routes in operation. Our National Incident Liaison Officers based at the National Traffic Operations Centre in the West Midlands supported by the Highways England Press Office endeavoured to keep customers updated regarding the progress of the incident and the delays being experienced, utilising social media channels and our Breaking News Service available on the web. By midday severe delays and congestion were being reported with delays of 60 minutes southbound and 30 minutes northbound evident. Our Variable Message Signs set further afield advised drivers travelling northbound to consider using the M1 and the A50 for the North West, and those on the southbound carriageway to use the M5 and M42 to bypass the incident and delays. Unfortunately around this time a collision occurred on the M42 northbound between J8 and J9 in Warwickshire involving a HGV and 2 cars with an over turned caravan which blocked the road and also realised severe delays of 60 minutes between J3A and J9, further adding to the problems of congestion.
At approximately 11:44 the injured driver had been extricated from his vehicle by the Fire Service and was conveyed to hospital via Ambulance. Clean up operations and recovery work commenced. Trapped traffic continued to be released in both directions also. We were mindful of the fact that there was a fixture that evening between Aston Villa and Manchester United with travelling away support using the M6. A concerted effort was made to keep customers informed of the likely impact this incident may have on journey plans giving customers the option to consider alternative routes to this and other destinations southbound from the North West to the Midlands and beyond.
At 17:10 the northbound carriageway was re-opened and approximately one hour later at 18:07 the southbound carriageway was also re-opened with the incident resolved and vehicles recovered. Residual delays of 30 minutes above the normal time it would take to travel between the two junctions were reported in both directions.
Our National Incident Liaison Officers produced regular updated reports on the progress of the incident to the National and Local media and third party traffic information providers (such as the BBC) provided regular updates on the closure and its impact via both online and local and national radio. The Highways England Press Office also issued a briefing to the media regarding this incident and detailing what was happening.
Highways England would like to thank motorists for their patience during this lengthy incident.
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