M42 Closure Southbound, Worcestershire, Friday 20 January 2017

The M42 was closed south­bound between the M42 J1 and the M5 J4a due to a
col­li­sion involv­ing a heavy goods vehi­cle. The artic­u­lated vehi­cle had over­turned on the link road from the M42 south­bound to the M5 and sub­se­quently caught fire.

On Fri­day morn­ing at 11:49, staff at the High­ways Eng­land West Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Cen­tre (WMRCC) received reports of an HGV which had over­turned and caught fire on the M42 link road to the M5. Con­fir­ma­tion of this inci­dent was pro­vided at 11:51 by CCTV cam­eras at the loca­tion, and imme­di­ately signs and sig­nals were set to warn approach­ing traf­fic that both lanes were closed due to the clear sever­ity of the inci­dent. 4 of our High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cer units and the West Mid­lands Ambu­lance Ser­vice were also imme­di­ately deployed to scene. Our National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers at the National Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre (NTOC) imme­di­ately began to dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion on this inci­dent via the High­ways Eng­land West Mid­lands Twit­ter feed.

Upon arrival of our Traf­fic Offi­cer units, a rolling road block was ini­ti­ated to stop
vehi­cles, and traf­fic man­age­ment was promptly put in situ to allow the main
south­bound car­riage­way to be fully closed at junc­tion 1, prior to the inci­dent. At approx­i­mately 12:04, the fire and ambu­lance ser­vice had arrived on scene. It became imme­di­ately appar­ent that the dri­ver was trapped inside the vehi­cle and that there was a large diesel spillage across part of the carriageway.

At approx­i­mately 12:20, emer­gency ser­vices con­firmed that the dri­ver of the HGV had suf­fered fatal injuries, and that all emer­gency ser­vices would need to remain on scene for some time. Traf­fic offi­cers had now begun to release trapped traf­fic from the scene from the back of the queue. Vehi­cles were being diverted via the M5 north link road, where they could then join the M5 south­bound at junc­tion 4. A rolling road block was ini­ti­ated by traf­fic offi­cers to allow this to be done safely as resid­ual traf­fic was still pass­ing by. Vari­able mes­sage sig­nage was set at this point, to advise
dri­vers who may be head­ing towards the inci­dent that the M42 M5S exit was now closed.

Our National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers con­tin­ued to dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion on this inci­dent and asso­ci­ated clo­sures via the High­ways Eng­land West Mid­lands Twit­ter feed, and via the ‘Break­ing News’ sec­tion of the High­ways Eng­land web­site, where detailed diver­sion infor­ma­tion was pro­vided. Our cor­po­rate Press Office issued a
traf­fic bul­letin to media organ­i­sa­tions which also included two diver­sion options for dri­vers. Senior staff at High­ways Eng­land were updated with the sit­u­a­tion, and we esca­lated to a region wide response to pre­pare for any fur­ther demand on resources.

All trapped traf­fic had been released by 14:00, and the block on the main car­riage­way was released, traf­fic could now resume. It was now estab­lished that for recov­ery to be able to access the front of the HGV, it would require access from the M5
south­bound. Traf­fic Offi­cers con­firmed that Cen­tral Motor­way Police Group would be
imple­ment­ing a block on the M5 south­bound for this to be done safely.

With the slip clo­sure still in place, con­sid­er­a­tions were now being made for ways to alle­vi­ate traf­fic approach­ing the scene which was build­ing at junc­tion 1 and would con­tinue to through the rush hour period later on, and to pro­vide cus­tomers with
alter­na­tive routes which would allow them to avoid the area. Our NILO team worked to set signs fur­ther afield which sug­gested alter­na­tive routes to dri­vers who were
wish­ing to join the M5 south­bound from the M42.

A coro­ner arrived on scene at shortly after half past 3 and con­trac­tors, who were now also on scene, had con­firmed that approx­i­mately 170 meters of car­riage­way would require resur­fac­ing, and dam­age to the bar­rier would also require repairs. A fur­ther 1,000 litres of diesel was con­firmed to have been spilt in the col­li­sion which would also need exten­sive clean up. It was now con­firmed that due to the work required to restore the road to safe oper­at­ing capac­ity, it would remain closed until the fol­low­ing morning.

By 17:10, the coro­ner and emer­gency ser­vices had left the scene. Recov­ery for the HGV was ongo­ing, how­ever due to the com­plex­ity of the inci­dent, it was expected it would take 3–4 hours for it to com­plete. By this point, delays approach­ing junc­tion 1 had now reduced sig­nif­i­cantly. Infor­ma­tion con­tin­ued to be dis­sem­i­nated via the
Twit­ter feed, inform­ing cus­tomers that recov­ery oper­a­tions were now com­plete, but the road would need to remain closed for clean-up work.

Shortly after 9pm, the HGV had been recov­ered and removed from the scene. This now allowed for car­riage­way resur­fac­ing and bar­rier repair works to begin. These works were com­pleted at 3am. A grit­ter was also sent to scene to treat the road prior to it reopen­ing. Con­trac­tors began to lift the road clo­sure once the work­force had left the scene. Finally, after much hard work by our High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cers, emer­gency ser­vices, con­trac­tors and recov­ery agents, the slip road was fully reopened at 04:13 on Sat­ur­day 21st. We would like to thank road users for their patience whilst this inci­dent was ongoing.