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.