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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