M6 Closure J15-J14 Southbound, Staffordshire, Tuesday 02 June 2015

The M6 in Stafford­shire was closed south­bound between junc­tions J15 (Stoke, Newcastle-Under Lyme) and J14 (Stafford North) due to a col­li­sion involv­ing 1 HGV and 1 car result­ing in 1 fatal­ity. The road remained closed for Cen­tral Motor­way Police Group to inves­ti­gate and for exten­sive recov­ery oper­a­tions to take place.

At approx­i­mately 16:27 our West Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Cen­tre was noti­fied of an inci­dent that had occurred on the M6 south­bound, ini­tially clos­ing lane 1 (of 3 lanes) between J15 and J14. Ini­tial reports (sub­se­quently ver­i­fied) were that a col­li­sion had taken place involv­ing two vehi­cles and that seri­ous injuries were sus­pected to occu­pants of at least 1 of the vehi­cles involved.  High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cers were despatched by the Regional Con­trol Cen­tre and upon arrival ver­i­fi­ca­tion was received that a col­li­sion involv­ing a heavy goods vehi­cle and a car had occurred. This had caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to the motor­way infra­struc­ture. A coor­di­nated effort was imme­di­ately put into place with our Traf­fic offi­cers work­ing in close liai­son with Stafford­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice, Cen­tral Motor­way Police Group and con­trac­tors work­ing for High­ways England.

Fol­low­ing an assess­ment by the Police and Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice of the scene, a plan was put into place to con­trol the inci­dent and con­cen­trate efforts to release a trapped casu­alty. Lengthy delays had built up by now. At 16:39 the casu­alty was con­firmed as hav­ing suf­fered fatal injuries as a result of the HGV hit­ting the sta­tion­ary car the casu­alty was in at the time on the hard shoul­der. This then caused the car to head down an embank­ment adja­cent to the carriageway.

At approx 16:50 a diver­sion route was imple­mented from J15 and cus­tomers were advised to fol­low the ‘Yel­low Tri­an­gle’ sym­bol leav­ing at J15 tak­ing the A500 east­bound to the A34, then head south­bound on the A34 which re-joins the M6 at J14 (Stafford South). This route (approx 13.5 miles) was dis­sem­i­nated to a wide vari­ety of media sources and via Twitter/the High­ways Eng­land websites.

To add to the dif­fi­cul­ties being faced by emer­gency ser­vices at this time, at approx­i­mately 16:57 it was iden­ti­fied that there had been a sig­nif­i­cant diesel spillage from the HGV (esti­mated to be in the region of 250 litres). This raised envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns as at the loca­tion of the inci­dent a stream ran under­neath the car­riage­way. As a con­se­quence the Envi­ron­men­tal Agency was noti­fied.  Dam­age to the car­riage­way by the diesel spillage was also a con­cern and this would need assess­ing once the vehi­cle had been recov­ered. With the diver­sion route fully in place and oper­at­ing our Traf­fic Offi­cers at circa 17:35 released trapped traf­fic by turn­ing around at scene to head back to the exit slip at J15. This method of traf­fic con­trol worked well, although delays peaked at 90 minutes.

A lengthy Police inves­ti­ga­tion had ensued at around 16:55. Recov­ery for the two vehi­cles had been requested and was en route, how­ever it was antic­i­pated that this oper­a­tion would also be pro­tracted given the loca­tions of the stricken vehi­cles. At 19:27 Police inves­ti­ga­tions had been con­cluded and at 20:42 the car had been recov­ered leav­ing just the HGV to be removed. This was achieved at approx­i­mately 23:42 when we (High­ways Eng­land) were able to reopen all lanes and restore full Motor­way capac­ity. Resid­ual delays at this time had dropped to about 60 min­utes and would take some time to clear.

We endeav­oured to keep our cus­tomers fully aware of what was hap­pen­ing regard­ing this inci­dent via our usual chan­nels on the web­site, social media sites, and via our col­leagues on “Traf­fic radio” channels.

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