M40 Lane Closures Both Directions, Warwickshire. Friday 11 March 2016
The M40 in Warwickshire had 3 lanes closed northbound and 2 lanes closed southbound between J16 and the M42 due to an incident involving a heavy goods vehicle. The heavy goods vehicle crossed over from the northbound to the southbound carriageway striking a bridge, damaging the central reservation barrier and also spilling approximately 22 tonnes of oats on to the carriageway along with diesel from its fuel tanks.
At approximately 10:49 Warwickshire Police advised our West Midlands Regional Control Centre (WMRCC) that a heavy goods vehicle had crossed over from the northbound to the southbound carriageway. The vehicle damaged the central reservation barrier, struck a bridge and spilled approximately 22 tons of oats on to the carriageway. Our WMRCC operatives immediately despatched Highways England Traffic Officers to the scene to assist Warwickshire Police, Fire and Rescue and Ambulance Services.
When the Traffic Officers arrived, it was established that the truck had also ruptured its fuel tanks in the collision with the barrier and was leaking diesel onto the carriageway surface which was mixing with the oats. Fortunately, traffic was able to be directed past the incident by using the hard shoulder but due to 3 lanes being closed congestion inevitably started to build.
The WMRCC contacted our National Traffic Operations Centre (NTOC) in Birmingham to inform them of the closure and operators there immediately set the electronic Variable Message Signs (VMS) on all appropriate routes of the strategic road network to inform motorists that may be heading for the area. Our National Incident Liaison Officer (NILO) produced an initial report to be distributed to the local and national travel media. We also initially updated our @HighwaysWMIDS twitter account to warn of the incident and issued in depth details and advice for our customers on our Highways England website and also via our www.trafficengland.com or m.highways.gov.uk websites and our smartphone travel apps to advise of the lane closures and disruption. These information services continued to be updated as soon as there were significant changes during the response to this incident.
Shortly after the incident occurred the Fire and Ambulance services arrived on scene to attend to the injured driver of the vehicle. It was also quickly established that due to the vehicle having collided with the bridge, the structure would need to be inspected and a structural engineer was requested to the scene. A clear-up and recovery crew were also requested. At approximately 12:20 a second lane re-opened on the southbound carriageway. Although traffic was passing the scene on the northbound carriageway via the hard shoulder, a signed diversion was implemented prior to the incident. Later in the day closures were also implemented on the northbound entry slip roads of the M40 at Junctions 14 and 15 to protect motorists joining the congestion. Additionally during the late morning and early afternoon as the delays escalated to severe levels, NTOC staff signed on strategic Variable Message Signing on routes approaching from the south of the country (including the M25, M4, A34 etc.) to encourage customers to use the M1 for the West Midlands to route traffic away from the severe 1.5 hour delays from J13 to the M42 which were prevalent on M40 at that time.
Around 14:00 the designated structural engineer and recovery crew arrived on scene to carry out inspections and make arrangements to right and remove the overturned heavy goods vehicle. Work continued throughout the afternoon with lifting equipment on scene and at approximately 16:30 this articulated truck had been righted and prepared for onward recovery so it could be removed from the scene. Important work continued to clear the spilt load and once the heavy goods vehicle was removed from the scene, contractors could safely assess the carriageway for any further damage that may have been sustained. This work was lengthy and continued into the early hours of the evening and fortunately it emerged that the bridge structure was declared safe and that no further action for the bridge was required. Once the heavy goods vehicle was recovered contractors using specialist cleaning equipment including a hydro-blaster and sweeper continued working hard to clear the last of the spillage and treat the carriageway surface.
During the late evening at approximately 22:45 the treatment of the carriageway was complete and specialist clear-up crews left the scene. Preparations were made to remove the northbound closures in lanes 1 and 2. Lane 3 remained closed in both directions to complete the final stages of the central reservation barrier repairs. Shortly after 23:00 lanes 1 and 2 re-opened on the northbound carriageway and congestion started to reduce.
At 01:00 the essential repair work to the central reservation barriers was completed and contractors scene commenced removing the final lane closures and by 01:10 the carriageway was declared fully open in both directions. Our West Midlands Regional Control Centre liaised throughout the incident with Warwickshire Police and contractors.
If you were affected by this incident Highways England would like to thank you for your patience and understanding.
Throughout this incident, Highways England updated customers via our website www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/ and via our regional twitter feeds @HighwaysWMIDS @HighwaysEAST @HighwaysSEAST.
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