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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