M1 Closure Southbound, Nottinghamshire, Monday 12th October 2015

The M1 South­bound on the bor­ders of Not­ting­hamshire and Leices­ter­shire was closed between J26 and J24 due to a peo­ple car­rier col­lid­ing with a van, result­ing in 2 fatal­i­ties. As well as a Leices­ter­shire Police inves­ti­ga­tion, the M1 south­bound remained closed for resur­fac­ing and emer­gency repairs, fol­low­ing exten­sive dam­age to the road surface.

At 02:19 our High­ways Eng­land Regional Con­trol Cen­tre in the East Mid­lands were made aware by Not­ting­hamshire Police of an inci­dent involv­ing a peo­ple car­rier that had col­lided with a van, block­ing the M1 South­bound between J25 (Not­ting­ham) and J24 (Lough­bor­ough).  It soon became appar­ent to the attend­ing emer­gency ser­vices that this was a seri­ous inci­dent, with exten­sive clean-up, repair and recov­ery oper­a­tions required.

At 02:26, Police con­firmed that this col­li­sion had resulted in 1 fatal­ity. Unfor­tu­nately, at 03:21, a 2nd fatal­ity was con­firmed.  A full clo­sure South­bound was requested from J25 in order to pre­serve the scene pend­ing a full col­li­sion inves­ti­ga­tion by the police. High­ways England’s National Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre, in Birm­ing­ham, were noti­fied as a mat­ter of urgency and the clo­sure was dis­sem­i­nated via High­ways England’s web­sites, Twit­ter and by High­ways England’s National Inci­dent Liai­son Officer’s reports to the media and our Break­ing News page on our web­site. Third party traf­fic infor­ma­tion providers (such as local and national radio sta­tions, online traf­fic infor­ma­tion sites and motor­ing organ­i­sa­tions) were kept fully apprised of the progress of the inci­dent and the asso­ci­ated impact through­out its dura­tion. We also utilised the elec­tronic Vari­able Mes­sage Signs (VMS) above the car­riage­way on the M1 and other roads approach­ing the clo­sure to make cus­tomers aware of this incident.

After liai­son with Police, they advised they had received uncon­firmed reports of a car trav­el­ling the wrong way up the south­bound car­riage­way of the M1. Leices­ter­shire Police are inves­ti­gat­ing this mat­ter fur­ther.  In response, emer­gency ser­vices were co-ordinated, with Not­ting­hamshire Fire & Res­cue ser­vices and East Mid­lands Ambu­lance Ser­vice reach­ing the scene by approx­i­mately 02:50.  Police had started to turn around any traf­fic trapped behind the scene of this inci­dent.  A One +, the Asset Sup­port Con­trac­tor for High­ways Eng­land in the East Mid­lands were also made aware of this inci­dent as they would be required to under­take the clean-up of the scene and any sub­se­quent infra­struc­ture repairs once the police had com­pleted their investigation.

A diver­sion route was con­firmed by the East Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Cen­tre, with all traf­fic being diverted off the M1 at J25 onto the A52 west­bound, the A5111 south­bound, the A6 south­bound and the A50 east­bound to re-join the M1 at J24, fol­low­ing the hol­low square sym­bol. This diver­sion route was dis­sem­i­nated via Break­ing News, Twit­ter, media reports and VMS.

 Despite the best endeav­ours of all con­cerned, at approx­i­mately 03:54, this inci­dent and the asso­ci­ated planned diver­sion route was adversely affected due to a col­li­sion on the south­bound exit slip road at J25 (at the start of the diver­sion route that had just been imple­mented). The col­li­sion involved 1 HGV, 1 Van and 2 cars. Ini­tially this blocked lane 1 (of 2 lanes).  East Mid­lands Ambu­lance Ser­vice and Not­ting­hamshire Fire & Res­cue were requested, as soon as it was estab­lished that a per­son was trapped in one of the cars involved in this col­li­sion.  At approx­i­mately 05:00, the M1 South­bound clo­sure was extended from J26 (Not­ting­ham) to J24, for the trapped per­son to be attended to. VMS were set, encour­ag­ing traf­fic to con­sider head­ing south­bound on the A38, leav­ing the M1 at J28. As soon as the East Mid­lands Ambu­lance Ser­vice and Not­ting­hamshire Fire & Res­cue had left the J25 inci­dent the clean-up and recov­ery of vehi­cles was com­pleted by 06:00. The clo­sure at J26 was then removed and the orig­i­nal diver­sion from J25 to J24 was re-implemented.  Through­out the dura­tion of this inci­dent, we kept our cus­tomers updated via our web­sites, Twit­ter, reports to the media and VMS. The East Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Cen­tre also kept key part­ners updated – includ­ing East Mid­lands Airport.

At 07:54 delays were recorded at 50 min­utes above the nor­mal jour­ney times expected at that time of the day for that sec­tion of road. Delays of 30 min­utes were mea­sured also on the M1 North­bound. Delays con­tin­ued to build, timed (at 09:13) as being 60 min­utes above the nor­mal jour­ney times, between J26 and J25 South­bound — and 50 min­utes north­bound, between J23 and J25.  Delays of up to 60 min­utes were reported, back as far as J26, dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour.  Dur­ing the after­noon and evening ‘rush’, the queues short­ened slightly, but aver­age speeds between J26 and J25 South­bound were still very slow.

Not­ting­hamshire Fire & Res­cue left the scene at approx­i­mately 08:30. By 11:30 police inves­ti­ga­tions at scene were com­pleted and the scene was ‘handed over’ to A One +, our Asset Sup­port Con­trac­tor, to assess the extent of dam­age done and under­take the clean-up of the scene and infra­struc­ture repairs.

Work con­tin­ued at the scene of the ini­tial inci­dent through­out the morn­ing rush hour in an attempt to re-open lanes as soon as pos­si­ble, once Leices­ter­shire Police inves­ti­ga­tions had been com­pleted. A spe­cial­ist elec­tri­cian was at scene at approx. 07:40, to repair a lamp-column that had been struck in the inci­dent. This coin­cided with a spe­cial­ist team arriv­ing, to decon­t­a­m­i­nate the car­riage­way. Lane 3 (of 3 lanes) was also closed north­bound past the scene for inci­dent screens to be set up. These screens ensured that cus­tomers head­ing north­bound did not have to see the scene of this inci­dent and also mit­i­gates the urge for road users to slow down and look at the ongo­ing man­age­ment of the scene and be dis­tracted from their side of the motor­way. Just over half an hour later vehi­cle recov­ery arrived at scene. The emer­gency screens were removed at approx­i­mately 11:20. This enabled lane 3 to reopen north­bound, result­ing in the north­bound congestion/delays easing.

Not­ting­hamshire Fire & Res­cue left the scene at approx­i­mately 08:30. By 11:30 police inves­ti­ga­tions at scene were com­pleted and the scene was ‘handed over’ to A One +, our Asset Sup­port Con­trac­tor, to assess the extent of dam­age done and under­take the clean-up of the scene and infra­struc­ture repairs.

Dam­age to the cen­tral reser­va­tion bar­rier (5 beams and 12 posts) needed to repaired and this was com­pleted by 12:45. How­ever fol­low­ing a detailed exam­i­na­tion, the tar­mac  on the road sur­face was found to have been struc­turally weak­ened in the inci­dent due to the extent of spilt diesel that had seeped in to the road. It was estab­lished at 12:30 that re-surfacing of the hard shoul­der and all 3 lanes was required – approx­i­mately 240 square metres of car­riage­way. Efforts were made to source the appro­pri­ate amount of materiel and spe­cial­ist equip­ment. Prior to the resur­fac­ing being able to com­mence the dam­aged sec­tion of road would need to be removed. As motor­ways must be con­structed to the high­est road stan­dard the removal and replace­ment of the road sur­face is a major infra­struc­ture engi­neer­ing chal­lenge. The spe­cial­ist equip­ment required to remove the road was delayed in reach­ing the scene due the con­ges­tion caused by the clo­sure and the hard shoul­der being obstructed by road users attempt­ing to exit the motor­way. Efforts were made by Police and High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cers to clear a path through the con­ges­tion to the scene but regret­tably the amount of con­ges­tion hin­dered the progress of the spe­cial­ist equip­ment. The delay resulted in the removal of the road sur­face not com­menc­ing until 17:30. By 19:00 the dam­aged road sur­face had been cleared and the lay­ing of new tar­mac was under­way. This was com­pleted by 20:30 and white lin­ing work was done by 20:45.  The clo­sures were then imme­di­ately begun to be removed from the M1 at J25. The road was fully reopened by 21:25 with delays back to Trow­ell ser­vices (3.7 miles of queu­ing traf­fic). Once the road was reopened these delays eased well and by 22:00 nor­mal traf­fic con­di­tions had been restored.

High­ways Eng­land would like to thank motorists for their patience and under­stand­ing, dur­ing this lengthy incident.

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