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.

Diverson Routes

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)

1 lane open eastbound

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.

westbound hardshoulder running

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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