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