M6 Closure Northbound between J5 – J6, West Midlands. Thursday 4th February 2016
The M6 in the West Midlands was closed northbound between J5 – J6 due to a serious collision involving 2 heavy goods vehicles and a car. Extensive incident investigation work was required by West Midland’s Central Motorway Police Group, as sadly this incident resulted in a fatality. All 4 lanes of carriageway required resurfacing repair work as a result of a large volume of diesel, which had spilt on to the carriageway causing widespread damage to the road surface.
On the morning of Thursday the 4th February 2016, at approximately 01:50 hours, our West Midlands Regional Control Centre was made aware by West Midland’s Central Motorway Police Group of a multiple vehicle collision on the M6 northbound between J5 – J6 and that traffic was at a standstill. Our West Midlands Regional Control Centre immediately deployed Highways England Traffic Officers to assist the Police and set appropriate signs and signals on the M6 and M42.
Upon early assessment of the seriousness of this incident the Police requested the closure of the northbound carriageway at J5 and a closure of lanes 3 and 4 on the southbound carriageway to install incident screens to block the view of the incident to southbound traffic. Highways England contractors and our Traffic Officers implemented the northbound closure at 02:16 hours and the lane closures on the southbound carriageway were in place at 02:18 hours.
Information regarding the closure was issued to West Midlands Twitter feed and Highways England Breaking News page and were continually updated throughout the period of this incident.
Once the closure was in place a number of vehicles were trapped within the northbound closure. Police and our Traffic Officers began a rear ward relief process of turning the vehicles around so that they could exit the motorway at J5. As this can be a long process, incident screens were erected on the northbound carriageway. Once in place the rear ward relief process stopped, as the incident screens allowed trapped vehicles to pass the incident scene using the hard shoulder. A number of vehicles within the trapped traffic had broken down which caused some delays in moving vehicles. All trapped vehicles were clear of the closure at 04:49 hours apart from 1 HGV which was still awaiting vehicle recovery.
For vehicles which were not trapped within the closure strategic variable message signs were set advising traffic to use the M5/M42 as an alternative to the M6.
Police collision investigation work was completed at 09:00 hours which allowed vehicle recovery to attend scene and begin recovery work on the northbound carriageway.
It was identified that there was an oil spillage and debris from the incident in lanes 3 and 4 on the southbound carriageway as well as damage to the central reservation. Once our contractors had repaired the barrier and cleared the carriageway of debris, they swept and gritted lanes 3 and 4 which enabled the southbound carriageway to fully re-open at 09:21 hours.
The northbound carriageway remained closed whilst vehicle recovery work continued. Due to the nature of the incident and vehicles involved it was not an easy recovery and vehicles were removed from the carriageway at 12:00 hours.
Once all vehicles had been recovered our contractors were able to assess damage caused to the road surface and central reservation. They could also commence debris clearance work. However, at this point a large diesel spillage was identified and this had caused extensive damage to the road surface.
After attempts to clear the spillage our contractor’s experts, deemed that the effects of the diesel had deteriorated the road surface to such an extent that all 4 lanes required resurfacing, a section which is 200m in length. To keep traffic moving we would normally try to reopen lanes past the scene but unfortunately in this instance the damage was too wide spread and it would not have been safe to do so.
To resurface 200m of carriageway, 320 tonnes of tarmac and specialist heavy equipment was required. The tarmac was ordered and made on site from suppliers based in Leicester. 16 truckloads were required to deliver the 320 tonnes of tarmac from Leicester to J5 – J6 of the M6. Vehicles were escorted but due to the volume of traffic approaching the closure it did take some time for the deliveries to reach the scene of the incident.
Whilst tarmac was on route our contactors began work removing the damaged road surface, plaining all 4 lanes of carriageway.
Carriageway resurfacing work was completed at 22:44 hours but required time to cool and set before white line and stud replacement work could commence. At 23:49 hours white line and stud replacement work began and this was completed at 00:46 hours on 05/02/2016.
Before traffic management could be removed our traffic officers moved any vehicles which had broken down in a live lane of queueing traffic between J4 – J5 onto the hard shoulder. They also moved vehicles which had parked on the hard shoulder and were not broken down off the hard shoulder.
Our traffic officers could then begin removing traffic management for the closure with assistance from our contractors.
At 01:47 all traffic management had been removed and the northbound carriageway had fully re-opened. Our variable message signs on the M6 and surrounding motorways where changed to advise road users that the M6 northbound between J5 – J6 was now open.
For safety, our traffic officers escorted traffic slowly and gradually back up to speed once the carriageway had re-opened.
Throughout this incident, Highways England updated customers via our website www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/ and via our West Midlands regional twitter feed.
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