M27 Closure J8-J9 Eastbound, Hampshire. Thursday March 26 2015
The M27 in Hampshire was closed eastbound between junctions J8-J9 due to a serious collision involving 4 cars and a HGV. There was 1 fatality and 7 other injuries reported. The road was closed for over 17 hours with complex police investigation and protracted recovery work being carried out. The road had to be resurfaced and delays in the area peaked at 2 hours over what they would normally be.
At approximately 09:17 on Thursday 26 March 2015 Hampshire police informed us they were getting reports of a serious collision and vehicle fire on the M27 eastbound near J8. Our South East Regional Control Centre operators checked CCTV in the area and quickly found the incident. They reported that the carriageway was blocked and there was a vehicle on fire. They set signs and signals on the M27 and surrounding roads to warn you of the incident. They updated Hampshire police on what they could see and dispatched our Traffic Officer crews to the scene. At 09:35 Hampshire police had blocked the westbound carriageway between junctions J9-J8 whilst the fire service tackled the blaze. The police asked us to close the motorway at J9 eastbound and sent another Hampshire unit to close the westbound carriageway at J10 and J9 westbound access slip. Our national teams started to push this information out to the media and via our Twitter channels as well as setting message signs further afield to warn you of the incident. We ensured that the diversion routes were signed and the details published and broadcast by local and national media.
It was clear from early on that this was a very serious incident and the road would be closed for a significant amount of time. Whilst the police and fire service dealt with the incident scene, our South East teams began to make plans to free traffic trapped by the incident. They also began to put in place a plan to deal with any infrastructure damage once the scene was handed over to us. At 09:40 Hampshire police had closed the westbound carriageway at J10 and by 09:55 the eastbound carriageway was closed at J8. To enable us to re-open the westbound carriageway as soon as possible, one of our Traffic Officer crews collected a set of incident screens to take to the scene. Incident screens are contained within a small trailer and kept at strategic locations on the motorway network. Deploying these screens would allow us to obscure the incident scene from view to firstly protect the dignity of those involved in the collision and to also prevent drivers slowing down to look at what is happening. At 10:27 we began to turn trapped traffic on the westbound carriageway. The westbound carriageway was attended to first as there were fewer vehicles to turn and as soon as the incident screens were in place we could open that carriageway completely. At 11:00 our officers had deployed the incident screens and by 11:36 all trapped traffic on the westbound carriageway had been released. At 11:49 the westbound carriageway had fully opened.
We were now able to move additional traffic officers patrols to the eastbound carriageway and at 12:09 we began to turn trapped traffic. The emergency services continued to work to make the scene safe and allow Hampshire police to begin collision investigation. Due to the large amount of vehicles that needed to be turned we knew the task would take several hours. We appreciated that people had already been there for over 3 hours so we knew we needed to do more to help you. At 13:32 a specialist team from our contractors were almost at the scene to cut the central reservation barrier so that we could escort traffic on to the westbound carriageway to exit the motorway the wrong way at J9 westbound access slip. We confirmed with Hampshire police the point at which we could cut the barrier as we could not impact on their investigation area. At 13:53 our contractors had removed a section of central reservation barrier and Hampshire police had blocked the westbound carriageway prior to J9. We began to escort vehicles through the gap in the barrier and off the motorway. Our officers continued to turn trapped traffic from the rear of the queue and at 14:58 all trapped traffic had been released. The westbound carriageway re-opened but we had to keep lane 3 closed so we could repair the central reservation barrier.
Hampshire police continued their collision investigation in to the evening and at 17:17 recovery of the vehicles involved commenced. By 18:35 the recovery operation was complete and our officers removed the incident screens that were deployed earlier in the day. This was the first opportunity that our contractors had to assess the damage to the carriageway. They found fire damage and oil / fuel damage across all 3 lanes that extended for 110 metres. This would require immediate resurfacing and would be a large and time consuming job. Our contractors cancelled non-essential works in the region to divert resources and complete this task as soon as possible. There were long delays on the eastbound carriageway until around 23:00 with our Traffic Officers constantly patrolling the area to clear broken down vehicles. Our contractors worked throughout the night to repair and resurface the carriageway. The work was completed at around 03:30 with the road full re-opening by 04:19.
Throughout this incident the Highways Agency updated customers via our website www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/ and via our regional twitter feeds @HATraffic_seast
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