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.
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.
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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