M11 Closure J8-J10 Northbound, Essex. Friday 20 March 2015

The M11 in Essex was closed on Fri­day 20 March between J8 – J10 due to a multi-vehicle col­li­sion which involved 1 light goods vehi­cle and 2 cars between J8 – J9. Severe delays how­ever, were caused to M11 south­bound traf­fic. Vehi­cles came to rest in lane 2 of this 2 lane sec­tion of the M11 and they required removal with lift­ing equip­ment for onward vehi­cle recov­ery and a col­li­sion inves­ti­ga­tion took place.

M11 re-opening to traffic

At 13:45 on Fri­day after­noon this very seri­ous inci­dent was responded to by Essex Police, Essex County Fire & Res­cue, Ambu­lance crews and High­ways Agency Traf­fic Offi­cers and con­trac­tors. Notably, an air ambu­lance was addi­tion­ally deployed to assist with the casu­alty and landed in a field adja­cent to the north­bound car­riage­way. Dur­ing the early stages of this inci­dent, High­ways Agency Traf­fic Offi­cers and con­trac­tors under­took oper­a­tions to fully close addi­tional slip roads hav­ing already closed the J8 north­bound entry slip road near Stansted Air­port. At this point north­bound traf­fic approach­ing J8 had to fol­low an estab­lished ‘Emer­gency Diver­sion Route’ fol­low­ing the ‘Solid Cir­cle’ sym­bol which utilises the A120, A10 and A505 roads. This route worked suc­cess­fully and traf­fic was smoothly leav­ing the M11 north­bound at J8 with­out traf­fic queues building.

Diversion and Heat Map Data.

Impor­tantly how­ever, south­bound traf­fic was severely affected despite being the car­riage­way oppo­site the inci­dent. Fire and Ambu­lance ser­vices had to access the inci­dent from the oppo­site car­riage­way and there­fore the south­bound car­riage­way was blocked. Given the acci­dent was very severe, a deci­sion was swiftly taken to install inci­dent screens in the cen­tral reser­va­tion area with the inten­tion that the south­bound traf­fic block could then be released as soon as pos­si­ble. By 15:00 south­bound traf­fic queues were extend­ing back to J11 near the south of Cam­bridge and as a result, con­trac­tors were clos­ing the J10, J9A and J9 south­bound entry slip roads.

By 15:45 enough road­space was clear to enable the trapped traf­fic on the north­bound car­riage­way beyond J8 to pass the inci­dent scene using the hard­shoul­der. Sub­se­quently, for the next hour traf­fic was released and able to steadily pass the inci­dent scene. Mean­while, the south­bound car­riage­way had lane 1 of the 2 lanes re-opened by 15:20. Lane 2 was unable to be re-opened due to the inci­dent screen struc­tures occu­py­ing some of the lane 2 roadspace.

By the mid to late after­noon traf­fic con­ges­tion was severe with queues back to J11 .. some 12 miles from the inci­dent scene. The J9A south­bound entry slip clo­sure addi­tion­ally meant that A11 traf­fic was divert­ing towards J10. The detected delays by this time for M11 south­bound traf­fic was some 2.5 to 3 hours and cus­tomers bound for Stansted Air­port (J8) were hav­ing their jour­neys “severely disrupted”.

High­ways Agency strate­gic sign­ing in other areas of the coun­try were advis­ing of the M11 south­bound severe delays and addi­tion­ally media updates and twit­ter feed were inform­ing our cus­tomers regularly.

Through­out the after­noon, lift and recov­ery oper­a­tions were car­ried out on the vehi­cles involved and a pro­longed and exten­sive acci­dent inves­ti­ga­tion was con­ducted by Essex Police. By 18:15 these oper­a­tions were draw­ing to a close. Delays for south­bound traf­fic remained severe at 3 hours addi­tional jour­ney time, how­ever the lane 2 clo­sure on the south­bound car­riage­way was removed by this time to effec­tively ‘fully re-open’ the carriageway.

Dur­ing the inci­dent, M11 north­bound traf­fic from Lon­don and the M25 links was able to flow well as noted from our CCTV and cru­cially north­bound traf­fic des­tined for Stansted Air­port was not adversely affected by the clo­sure fur­ther north.

By 18:40 our con­trac­tors had removed the clo­sures of the M11 south­bound entry slip roads at J10, J9A and J9. Finally, after an exten­sive clean-up and sweep of the acci­dent scene the north­bound car­riage­way was safe to re-open. Dur­ing the next phase our Traf­fic Offi­cers and con­trac­tors removed all traf­fic man­age­ment to re-open fully the north­bound and addi­tion­ally re-open the J8 north­bound entry slip road. Later dur­ing the early evening between 19:00 and 20:00 the long delays on the M11 south­bound car­riage­way cleared.

Through­out this inci­dent, High­ways Agency updated cus­tomers via our web­site www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/ and via our regional twit­ter feed @HATraffic_east.

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