M11 Closure J8 – J9 Northbound, Essex. Wednesday 11th May 2016
The M11 in Essex was closed northbound between J8 – J9 on Wednesday 11th May due to a heavy goods vehicle fire and diesel spillage. As a result of the large amount of diesel which was spilt across all lanes of the carriageway, full road re-surfacing was required.
The M11 in Essex was closed on the 11th May for extensive road surface repairs and vehicle recovery work following a heavy goods vehicle fire and diesel spillage. The fire occurred shortly before 11:19 am when Highways England were made aware and immediately deployed our Highways England (HE) Traffic Officers to the scene.
Upon arrival HE Traffic Officers stopped traffic to allow Essex County Fire Rescue and Essex Police to tackle and manage the vehicle fire which was on the hard shoulder. It was identified that there was a diesel leak from the fuel tank of the HGV’s tractor unit onto the carriageway, at which point our contractors were requested to attend for spillage clearance work. Whilst waiting for our contractors HE Traffic Officers treated the spillage with absorbent material to try and absorb the diesel. Our contractors arrived on scene with additional absorbent materials and equipment at 11:58 am.
At 12:18 pm Essex Police and Highways England agreed a full closure of the M11 northbound was required due to problems in stopping the flow of diesel from the HGV onto the carriageway. It is thought that at least 300 litres of diesel had spilt across the hard shoulder and lanes 1 and 2. Our contractors arranged for additional equipment and absorbent materials to be delivered to scene in light of the severity of this spillage. Dampening down work was on-going by the Fire Service as one of the wheels on the vehicles trailer kept re-igniting.
Working with our Police colleagues, HE Traffic Officers fully closed the main carriageway and slip roads. They then began work in releasing trapped traffic through rearward relief. This process involves turning all of the trapped traffic back on itself to exit the motorway at the junction behind them (J8a). This can be a lengthy process which is dependent on the number of vehicles within the trapped traffic and the available turning circle for HGV’s. In this instance there were difficulties in turning some of the HGV’s and within the trapped traffic some of the vehicles had broken down and had to be manually moved. A diversion route was also implemented for northbound traffic leaving the M11 at J8 which was signed for with signs depicting a circle symbol. Essex Police sourced extra Police motorcycles to assist with traffic management.
Throughout this incident operators at our National Traffic Operations Centre were setting variable message signs on road that the M11 was closed. Essentially, this covered strategic routes approaching the northbound closure from the East and South East regions of England. Our National Incident Liaison Team issued updates on twitter and breaking news was set on the Highways England Corporate Website and Traffic England Website to inform customers of the unplanned closure. Additionally, reports were issued to the media and our East Regional Control Centre provided Stansted Airport with regular updates.
Despite on-going efforts to re-open a lane past the scene, it was identified after initial skid tests, that the effects of the spillage were worse than initially thought and full carriageway re-surfacing would be required. Additional absorbent materials and a road sweeper were requested and with help from the Police were escorted to scene by 14:00 pm. With these additional resources and skid tests our contractors were able to re-open lane 2 at 14:39 pm. This enabled the process of removing trapped traffic via rearward relief to cease and trapped traffic was able to pass the scene using lane 2. All trapped traffic left the motorway by 14:42 pm. Once trapped traffic and the HGV had been removed resurfacing work could commence.
Vehicle recovery work was completed at 16:20 and when the HGV left scene our contractors were able to put a full closure in place to close the hard shoulder and lane 1 in preparation for resurfacing work and the re-opening of lane 2 to all traffic. Additional road surface treatment was also carried out in lane 2 prior the lane re-opening to all traffic at 17:19 pm. Full carriageway resurfacing was still required but to assist road users we established that we were able to resurface the hard shoulder and lane 1 with traffic passing in lane 2. Once this work was complete we could switch the closure and traffic could use lane 1 whilst we resurfaced lane 2. These works were fully completed and all lanes re-opened at 02:12 hours.
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