A12 Closure Both Directions, Essex, Wednesday 08 February 2017

The A12 in Essex was closed in both direc­tions between J25 and J19 due to a seri­ous inci­dent involv­ing a Heavy Goods Vehi­cle which crashed through a bar­rier on an over­bridge above the A12 and then came to rest partly on the A12
south­bound car­riage­way below and partly on the adja­cent grass verge and sub­se­quently caught fire.

At approx­i­mately 16:00hrs Essex Police made our col­leagues at High­ways Eng­land East­ern Regional Con­trol Cen­tre aware of a seri­ous road traf­fic col­li­sion involv­ing a Heavy Goods Vehi­cle. Both the south and north­bound car­riage­ways had traf­fic held. Vari­able Mes­sage Signs (VMS) were imme­di­ately set to warn road users of the
inci­dent. Essex Police and Fire & Res­cue ser­vices headed to the scene where they were later assisted by High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cers. Our National Traf­fic
Oper­a­tions Cen­tre (NTOC) in Birm­ing­ham were also informed and High­ways
Eng­land National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers (NILO) utilised social media on our @HighwaysEast and @HighwaysSEast Twit­ter feeds, they also issued a report to inform the travel media and set a break­ing news mes­sage on the High­ways Eng­land website.


On arrival Essex Police con­firmed the A12 would have to be fully closed in both
direc­tions. It emerged that the HGV involved was trans­port­ing bat­ter­ies and had struck a bar­rier on an over­bridge above the A12 and landed partly on the A12
south­bound car­riage­way below and partly on the adja­cent grass verge. The Heavy Goods Vehi­cle then caught fire. Given these events a strate­gic diver­sion route was imple­mented which took road users off the A12 at J25 (Marks Tey) via the A120 to Brain­tree, A131 through Great Not­ley and Great Leighs to the A130 through
Chelms­ford and re-joining the A12 south­bound at J19. A north­bound diver­sion was also put in place and strate­gi­cally signed on the wider strate­gic road net­work. Our staff at the East­ern Regional Con­trol Cen­tre alerted Stanstead Air­port and Felixs­towe docks as pas­sen­gers for both could be affected by the inci­dent and the result­ing closures.

Shortly before 1800hrs, Essex Police started work to clear trapped traf­fic on the south­bound car­riage­way. Fol­low­ing this a later deci­sion was made to fully open the north­bound car­riage­way, how­ever Essex Police advised that the south­bound
car­riage­way would remain closed for a con­sid­er­able amount of time as an exten­sive inves­ti­ga­tion and recov­ery oper­a­tion would need to take place.

Essex County Fire & Res­cue ser­vice worked hard to make the scene safe due to the issue of the bat­ter­ies which the Heavy Goods Vehi­cle was car­ry­ing, as they were smoul­der­ing and re-igniting. At approx­i­mately 20:00hrs we were advised that all the trapped traf­fic had been released from the scene and the inci­dent was now under the juris­dic­tion of Essex Police. A recov­ery team arrived on scene to install what would be a com­plex recov­ery operation.

Essex County Fire & Res­cue remained on scene damp­en­ing down the fire and just after mid­night Essex Police advised that the com­plex recov­ery oper­a­tion had commenced.

Recov­ery was steadily pro­gress­ing but at approx­i­mately 08:30hrs on the morn­ing of the Thurs­day 9th Feb­ru­ary, Essex County Fire & Res­cue were hav­ing to restart their work due to the bat­ter­ies re-igniting again and recov­ery work was held up on
occa­sion. Once it was safe to do so recov­ery work con­tin­ued but it was soon
estab­lished that fur­ther spe­cial­ist lift­ing equip­ment was required at the scene. Just after mid­day Essex Police escorted the crane from Junc­tion 28 of the A12 and it arrived shortly before 13:00hrs. Work quickly com­menced and crews worked hard
through­out the day. As work headed into late after­noon and evening our Area 6
con­trac­tors assisted Essex Police with pro­vi­sion of emer­gency light­ing so
inves­ti­ga­tions could con­tinue along­side recov­ery work.

Shortly after 19:00hrs the recov­ery team left the scene with the trailer from the Heavy Goods Vehi­cle and were escorted to a com­pound. Once recov­ery were clear of the scene Essex Police re-opened lane 2 past the scene and advised they would be return­ing to con­tinue with their inves­ti­ga­tions in day­light hours. Dur­ing the morn­ing of Fri­day 10th, the inves­ti­ga­tion and clean-up work con­tin­ued and inevitable morn­ing delays south­bound re-occurred with delays of just under 1 hour being mea­sured around 8am. Included in this was assess­ment of infra­struc­ture dam­age with a lamp col­umn demol­ished and bridge para­pet dam­aged. The inves­ti­ga­tion by Essex Police sadly con­firmed that the dri­ver of the Heavy Goods Vehi­cle sus­tained fatal injuries.

As the event moved into the after­noon the delays for south­bound traf­fic receded and by 15:30hrs the area was safe for the south­bound car­riage­way to fully re-open to traf­fic. With con­trac­tors remov­ing the lane 1 clo­sure and strate­gic signs and sig­nals being amended accord­ingly. Through­out the inci­dent reg­u­lar updates were tweeted on the High­ways Eng­land regional twit­ter feeds and clo­sures pub­lished on Break­ing News on High­ways Eng­land websites.

Clo­sures over 24 hours are unusual and High­ways Eng­land would like to thank
cus­tomers who were affected dur­ing the inci­dent for their patience and understanding