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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