M62 Closure J24 – J21 Both Directions, Greater Manchester, Monday 08 June 2015
The M62 was closed in both directions following a serious collision which comprised of 3 HGV’s, a van and a car. Initially, 1 HGV crossed over from the eastbound to the westbound carriageway, then subsequently colliding with on-coming traffic and over-turned.
At approximately 08:16 our North West Regional Control Centre was notified of an accident that had occurred on the M62 between J22 (Ripponden) and J21 (Milnrow) that was blocking the main carriageway in both directions. Our operational staff at the CCTV room quickly found the incident on camera and deployed our Traffic Officers to scene immediately. At the same time, units from our colleagues at the North West Motorway Police Group were mobilised, along with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service. Once on scene, it was clearly evident that this was a very serious incident and North West Motorway Police Group took the prompt decision to close the motorway in both directions. Our national teams located at the National Traffic Operations Centre immediately started to disseminate this information out to the media and via our Highways England Twitter channels. Notably our Variable Message Signing was set at pre-determined strategic locations further afield to warn our customers of this incident. The images below show the immediate aftermath and the situation later in the mid-morning.
Subsequently a strategic diversion was implemented, with eastbound traffic being advised to leave the M62 at J21 and take the A640 through Newhey and the A672 through Denshaw. The westbound diversion was the reverse of this. Because the main diversion route for westbound traffic was comprised of rural, single carriageway roads, congestion built up quickly. At approx. 13:45 police made the decision to extend the westbound closure to J24 to relieve congestion on the A628 (Woodhead Pass). It was evident that a significant number of customers were using the A628 [Sheffield to Manchester] as a logical alternative, however delays on the A628 peaked mid-afternoon with an additional 2 hours above the normal journey time for that route. The extension of the westbound closure and the use of a different route for the westbound closure would also help alleviate some of the pressure on the original diversion route with Denshaw and Newhey. Furthermore, strategic Variable Message Signs also now signed those delays and our media channels published that information. These diversion routes were disseminated via Twitter and the Highways England Breaking News page of the Highways England website in addition to the local and national media. Variable Message Signs above the M62 and other major roads on the approach to this incident were adjusted to allow customers to make informed decisions about their journey.
Images below detail the diversion routes which were incorporated later in the afternoon.
Unsurprisingly, there were large volumes of traffic trapped within the closure due to the location and time of day that the incident occurred. Our Traffic Officers worked closely with both Police and Contractors to release traffic. Eastbound traffic was released past the scene of the incident via the hard shoulder. For safety reasons, rearward relief was used to release westbound traffic, turning vehicles at scene and directing them back down the carriageway. Later on it was possible to filter some of the trapped westbound traffic past the scene via the hard shoulder. All trapped traffic was released and cleared by 12:15.
Meanwhile, our contractors at the collision site faced a number of challenges due to the nature of the incident and were engaged in assessing damage caused by the incident. There was a significant diesel spill and substantial damage to the central reservation barrier and it was clear the closure would be protracted. We utilised all possible means of communication (social media, local and national media) to strongly advise customers to consider alternative routes or delaying their journeys.
During the course of the afternoon, contractors and vehicle recovery operators worked tirelessly at the scene with lift and recovery operations and also working to move the load of the stricken HGV. It was loaded with a consignment of 44 tonnes of butter which was melting to form a large amount of grease on the carriageway and furthermore the diesel spilt from the tanks had damaged the road surface. The spillage was significant and the carriageway damage was primarily on the westbound carriageway where the HGV had come to rest.
Just before 16:30 in the afternoon, the eastbound carriageway was clear of debris on the nearside and this allowed our Traffic Officers to re-open lane 1 of the 3. Whilst this was a positive step, the delays eastbound were significant with traffic queues extending rearward to the M66 J18 (Simister Roundabout)
Westbound delays on the M62 approaching the diversion remained at 90mins in the late afternoon which customers reaching standing traffic just after J25 as customers ahead left at J24 (Huddersfield) for the second diversion route.
As the scene became clear of the vehicles involved attempts to cleanse the westbound carriageway service were carried out, however it became clear a full resurfacing would definitely be required of the westbound carriageway. The decision therefore was taken to re-open the westbound carriageway at J22 to ease diversion route congestion and traffic was allowed to use the hardshoulder (which was undamaged and wouldn’t need resurfacing) to pass the incident scene. For safety reasons J24 was not opened as a traffic management measure and prevent traffic adding to the congestion, it remained closed until local routes were clear and traffic management was set up at J22 for the later closure overnight for the resurfacing to take place. Finally, just after midnight traffic could now flow freely from J24 – J22 as the J22 – J21 diversion was then in operation.
Events on the eastbound carriageway were also ongoing and lanes 2 and 3 had to remain closed whilst contractors carried out full central reservation barrier replacement and repair work. A number of lengths of barrier and a lamp column had been severely damaged. As the event moved into the early hours the delays naturally diminished and the worked pressed ahead. At 04:26 contractors reported resurfacing the westbound carriageway was completed and the carriageway was re-opened. Shortly afterwards at 05:05 our barrier repair crews confirmed the eastbound barrier repairs were complete and the remaining lanes were re-opened.
The event had severely disrupted our customers in the North West and North East and also areas in the northern regions of the Midlands affecting journeys to Manchester Airport for example. During the incident, bulletins were regularly sent out with images from the scene for our customers to evaluate the severity of the accident. There were dramatic increases in journey times which were in excess of 2 hours for our customers, prevalent throughout the day and evening. We would like to thank our customers for their patience on the day and contractors for their hard work in restoring the M62 to its normal condition.
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