M5 Closure J8-J9 Southbound, Worcestershire, Thursday 2nd June 2016

The M5 on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire bor­der was closed south­bound between J8 (M50, Stren­sham) and J9 (A46, Tewkes­bury) due to two col­li­sions involv­ing a Heavy Goods Vehi­cle (HGV) and a num­ber of cars. The inci­dent resulted in a num­ber of injuries includ­ing 2 fatal­i­ties and required the road to remain closed for sev­eral hours whilst a full col­li­sion inves­ti­ga­tion was com­pleted.

At approx­i­mately 0108 on the morn­ing of Thurs­day 2nd June 2016 Glouces­ter­shire Police received a report of a seri­ous road traf­fic col­li­sion (RTC) on the M5 south­bound between J8 and J9 and that the road was blocked. Early reports from mem­bers of the pub­lic at the scene was that this was a seri­ous inci­dent with mul­ti­ple casu­al­ties. As a result units from Glouces­ter­shire Police were despatched to the scene and a mutual aid request was sent to West Mer­cia Police (who patrol the M5 and M50 nearby) and their col­leagues of the Cen­tral Motor­way Police Group. In addi­tion ambu­lances from the  West Mid­lands Ambu­lance Ser­vices were noti­fied and units were despatched. Glouces­ter­shire Police also requested that Glouces­ter­shire Fire & Res­cue attend due to the reports of per­sons being trapped in their vehi­cles. High­ways England’s regional con­trol cen­tres in the South West and West Mid­lands regions were also alerted of the inci­dent and three traf­fic offi­cer units were despatched to the inci­dent to assist with man­ag­ing traffic.

The first emer­gency ser­vice units arrived on scene at approx­i­mately  0120 and it was imme­di­ately appar­ent that this was a seri­ous inci­dent and would require the road to be closed for some time whilst it was dealt with. High­ways England’s West Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Cen­tre (WMRCC) started set­ting warn­ing mes­sages on the elec­tronic Vari­able Mes­sage Signs (VMS) on the M5 south­bound approach­ing J8. In addi­tion they noti­fied the National Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre (NTOC) in Birm­ing­ham to advise of the inci­dent, clo­sure and likely dura­tion. Oper­a­tors at the NTOC set VMS fur­ther afield across the motor­way net­work to warn road users bound for the M5. They also issued a travel alert on the High­ways England’s travel web­site www.trafficengland.com. These alerts are also dis­sem­i­nated on our mobile ser­vices, RSS feeds and Twit­ter feeds.

From the scene Glouces­ter­shire Police con­firmed that sadly this inci­dent has resulted in the loss of two lives and that a third per­son was seri­ously injured. As such a full, detailed, foren­sic inves­ti­ga­tion was required and that this would take sev­eral hours to com­plete before the road could be cleared up and re-opened. It was con­firmed that this inci­dent was in fact two sep­a­rate col­li­sions that occurred very close together in a short space of time. The ini­tial inci­dent involved 2 cars and the sec­ond inci­dent involved a HGV and 2 other cars.

High­ways England’s National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cer (NILO) was briefed on the details of the inci­dent and they drafted and issued a inci­dent report to the local and national travel media (such as the BBC and INRIX — who pro­vide traf­fic info to sat nav providers, online travel infor­ma­tion ser­vices etc) to advise them of the sit­u­a­tion. In addi­tion the NILO posted a bul­letin on the High­ways England’s High­waysWMIDS and High­waysS­WEST feeds on Twit­ter.  Finally they also issued a bespoke press release to the media pro­vid­ing addi­tional detail regard­ing the inci­dent in an effort to ensure that local and national travel infor­ma­tion providers could warn road users as soon as pos­si­ble as this inci­dent was clearly going to last through­out the morn­ing peak travel period. Both NTOC and NILO con­tin­ued to pro­vide reg­u­lar updates through­out the dura­tion of the inci­dent via the numer­ous means men­tioned above, includ­ing the diver­sion (detailed below).

Once the clo­sure was con­firmed as being required our WMRCC checked to see if there was an avail­able diver­sion route which could be utilised. A diver­sion route was found and imple­mented which took road users off of the M5 at J8 on to the M50 west­bound to J2 of that motor­way. Traf­fic would then be directed off of the motor­way at J2 on to the A417 south­bound to Glouces­ter and then the A40 east­bound to J11 of the M5. This is pre-planned emer­gency diver­sion route for the closed sec­tion of the M5 and is marked out on road signs with a black square symbol.

For road users trav­el­ling from fur­ther afield the NILO also issued an advi­sory to the media and the High­ways Eng­land web­site ask­ing road users to con­sider alter­na­tive routes to avoid the clo­sure and local diver­sion route. A sug­gested route was via the M42 to J3, then the A435 south­bound past Red­ditch to Alces­ter to pick up the A46 south­bound to Tewkes­bury where traf­fic could pick up the M5 at J9.

Fol­low­ing the inci­dent there was a small amount of traf­fic trapped in the clo­sure between J8 and the scene of the inci­dent. This traf­fic was released via a process called rear-ward relief. This entails traf­fic being turned around from the back of the queue and directed the wrong way along the motor­way to exit at the pre­vi­ous junc­tion. This took some time to com­plete as Glouces­ter­shire Police wanted to speak to each dri­ver to ascer­tain if they’d wit­nessed the inci­dent. Once the police had taken state­ments the traf­fic was released and clear of the scene by 0500.

Glouces­ter­shire Police con­tin­ued with their inves­ti­ga­tions at the scene until 0900 when the road was handed over to High­ways Eng­land con­trac­tors to start to clear the scene of the debris and vehi­cles. The spe­cific nature of the inci­dent resulted in a large amount of vehi­cle debris at the scene which took some time to clear.

Addi­tion­ally there was some dam­age to the cen­tral reser­va­tion crash bar­rier fol­low­ing the inci­dent that needed to be repaired before the road could be reopened. The clean-up, recov­ery and bar­rier repairs were com­pleted by 1120 and the road was fully reopened.

The inci­dent and clo­sure ini­tially caused no delays until approx­i­mately 0700 when traf­fic was observed to be build­ing up on the M5 south­bound approach to J8. These delays increased through­out the morn­ing with a peak delay of approx­i­mately 1 hour for traf­fic approach­ing the clo­sure. Addi­tional delays were noted on local roads in the area includ­ing an unof­fi­cial diver­sion via roads between J1 of the M50 to Tewkes­bury and roads through Tewkes­bury town cen­tre. Note that this route was not offi­cial and was not pro­moted by High­ways Eng­land or any other traf­fic infor­ma­tion provider — the offi­cial diver­sion route detailed above was selected in order to avoid caus­ing the delays expe­ri­enced by road users in Tewkesbury.

Fol­low­ing the inci­dent Glouces­ter­shire Police have made a pub­lic appeal for infor­ma­tion regard­ing the inci­dent. A dri­ver involved in the col­li­sion did not remain at the scene and they are appeal­ing for the dri­ver to come for­ward, or for mem­bers of the pub­lic to pro­vide infor­ma­tion to help iden­tify and locate them.


If you were affected by this pro­tracted inci­dent and clo­sure High­ways Eng­land would like to thank you for your patience and understanding.

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