M6 Closure Northbound, Cheshire, Friday 08 September 2017

The M6 north­bound in Cheshire was closed between J16 — J19, due to a
col­li­sion which involved sev­eral Heavy Goods Vehi­cles. One of the vehi­cles was a chem­i­cal tanker. As a result of the col­li­sion, the chem­i­cal tanker had been holed and approx­i­mately 18,000 litres of liq­uid had spilt-out onto the car­riage­way,
neces­si­tat­ing a 17½ mile stretch of the motor­way being closed.

At 1.05pm, our col­leagues at the North West Motor­way Police Group alerted the
High­ways Eng­land con­trol cen­tre that there had been a road traf­fic col­li­sion involv­ing
sev­eral Heavy Goods Vehi­cles on the M6 north­bound, J18 — J19, adja­cent to Knutsford services.

Our motor­way con­trol room quickly located the inci­dent on CCTV and imme­di­ately set warn­ing signs and signals.

At the same time, our motor­way con­trol room also dis­patched sev­eral of our Traf­fic Offi­cer patrols to assist the emer­gency services.

Upon arrival, it was found that the chem­i­cal tanker had been struck from the rear by another vehicle.

The col­li­sion had holed the tanker and the 18,000 litres of liq­uid that it was
trans­port­ing had spilt-out onto the road sur­face. The col­li­sion had blocked the
car­riage­way, pre­vent­ing motorists from get­ting past. We had no choice but to fully close the M6 north­bound J18 — J19.

With the M6 north­bound now closed at J18, delays approach­ing this junc­tion had risen to approx­i­mately 9 miles of queu­ing traf­fic by 1.45pm.

As the chem­i­cal tanker con­tin­ued to spill liq­uid, the emer­gency ser­vices at the scene declared a 200 metre exclu­sion zone around the inci­dent and directed that the
motor­way now be closed in BOTH direc­tions, until spe­cial­ists could iden­tify the nature of the liquid.

Shortly after 2.00pm, the M6 had been closed north­bound and south­bound,
J18 — J19.

An emer­gency com­mand post was set-up nearby at Knusts­ford motor­way services.

There was a quan­tity of traf­fic which was now ‘trapped’ inside the sec­tion of
motor­way which had been closed.

On the M5 south­bound, we worked hard so that all of this ‘trapped’ traf­fic had been released by 3.26pm, but it took a lit­tle longer to clear the ‘trapped’ traf­fic on the
oppo­site north­bound, due to the higher vol­ume of vehi­cles ‘stuck’ behind the collision.

This ‘trapped’ traf­fic on the north­bound was routed through the nearby motor­way
ser­vices, join­ing local roads via the rear ser­vice exit.

By 5.10pm, queu­ing traf­fic on the M6 north­bound approach­ing the clo­sure at J18, was expe­ri­enc­ing delays of approx­i­mately two hours.

As the delays grew, our National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers based at our National
Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre near Birm­ing­ham set strate­gic sig­nage at the road­side to warn of the delays, pub­lished a Break­ing News arti­cle on our web­site, updated our mobile app’, engaged with motorists on Twit­ter and issued reports to media out­lets and travel hubs. Our 24/7 cus­tomer con­tact cen­tre was also on-hand to answer calls from the public.

To alle­vi­ate the 7 miles of queu­ing traf­fic that had built-up on the approach to the
clo­sure at J18 and to take advan­tage of addi­tional diver­sion routes, at 5.10pm Cheshire police closed the north­bound car­riage­way fur­ther back at J16. The M6 north­bound was now closed, J16 — J19 and on the oppo­site south­bound, closed J19 — J18.

With the spe­cial­ist chem­i­cal team on-scene, sup­ported by the Envi­ron­ment Agency, High­ways Eng­land and the emer­gency ser­vices, the liq­uid lost by the chem­i­cal tanker was declared safe and our traf­fic offi­cers acted quickly to re-open the M6 south­bound at 6.53pm.

On the M6 north­bound, the motor­way couldn’t be re-opened until clean-up and
recov­ery of the HGVs had been com­pleted. But as the delays began to ease, Cheshire police lifted their clo­sure fur­ther back at J16, so that by 7.45pm, the M6 north­bound only remained closed J18 — J19.

By 9.03pm, recov­ery trucks had com­pleted the del­i­cate and com­plex task of remov­ing all of the dam­aged HGVs from the scene, our con­trac­tors had com­pleted their
exten­sive clean-up work and our Traf­fic Offi­cers had begun to lift the clo­sure, so that by 9.28pm, the M6 north­bound had been fully re-opened.

High­ways Eng­land under­stands that this inci­dent caused unavoid­able dis­rup­tion and we would like to sin­cerely thank our cus­tomers for their patience and under­stand­ing throughout.