M4 Closure J13 - J11 Eastbound, Berkshire. Wednesday 11 May 2016
The M4 in Berkshire was closed Eastbound between J13 and J11 on the morning of 11th May due to an Articulated Heavy Goods Vehicle overturning and partially crossing over carriageways through the central reservation barrier. As a result of this a large amount of diesel and oil was spilt onto the road surface.
The M4 in Berkshire was closed all day Wednesday 11 May and into the early hours of Thursday 12 May for extensive repairs to the carriageway and the central reservation barrier following an incident involving an Articulated Heavy Goods Vehicle which occurred shortly after 04:57 on Wednesday morning. The prolonged closure was required for vehicle recovery work and extensive carriageway and barrier repairs.
At circa 04:55 Thames Valley Police notified our East Regional Control Centre that they were getting reports of a serious incident on the M4 located between J12 and J11 eastbound with a HGV straddling the central reservation barrier having (it appeared) partially crossed carriageways from eastbound to westbound. Resulting from this report, emergency services were deployed including Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Immediately Highways England Traffic Officers were deployed to assist our police colleagues by despatchers at our Regional Control Centre. Our operators trained CCTV cameras at this locality onto the incident and given the extent of the situation our contractors were notified very shortly afterwards. The full magnitude of the incident became readily apparent.
With approaching traffic now stopped signals were set for the M4 closed at J12. Operators at our National Traffic Operations Centre began setting variable message signs that the M4 was closed. Essentially, this covered strategic routes approaching the eastbound closure. On the westbound carriageway Thames Valley Police assisted by Highways England Traffic Officers had closed lanes 2 and 3 due to the cab of the vehicle encroaching into lane 3. Our National Incident Liaison Team based at the National Traffic Operations Centre in Birmingham 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.
One of the immediate concerns on the ground was to manage the trapped traffic which was caught behind the incident. Traffic Officers were engaged in safely co-ordinating the release of this traffic, clearing it by rearward relief. This began in earnest circa 07:00. By now delays were starting to build with delays of 30 minutes eastbound and 16 minutes westbound reported on our systems at the National Traffic Operations Centre.
A robust diversion route was instigated with motorists directed to exit the M4 eastbound at J12 and follow the Hollow Circle symbol.
Our Area 3 contractors were deployed with the purpose of re-enforcing closures and also with spill kits in order to treat the spillage. Due to the complexities of turning the trapped traffic the larger Freight Traffic was released past the scene.
Throughout this time the efforts of the emergency services were focussed on releasing the driver of the HGV who had suffered serious injuries as a consequence of the collision and at 06:18 it was confirmed that these injuries had proved fatal. Thames Valley Police requested Incident Screens to scene and what was to be a protracted collision investigation ensued.
Along with the central reservation barrier damage (21 posts and 12 lengths), and spillage, the vehicles load of engine blocks and parts would need to be recovered along with the vehicle.
Our operators at the National Traffic Operations Centre, in an attempt to get traffic away from the incident, set strategic Variable Message Signs advising traffic for M25 London to use the A34 Oxford and M40. At 10:15 delays had now risen to 65 minutes on the eastbound carriageway and 35 minutes on the westbound. Recovery of the vehicle was held in abeyance for Thames Valley Police to conduct their investigations. At 10:42 the closure was extended to J13 through to J11 due to heavy congestion on the diversion route. This took traffic onto the A34 southbound and the A339 onto the A4 to then pick up the original diversion.
At 11:30 recovery of the HGV began and specialist recovery plant was on scene to carry this out.
Now that the closure had been moved back to J13, we had the problem once again of dealing with trapped traffic between J13 and J12. This traffic continued to exit at J12 and join the Hollow Circle symbol led diversion route. During the recovery phase it was determined that the eastbound carriageway would need resurfacing. The expectation then was that the closure would remain in place for the rest of the day and possibly overnight in order to resurface all 3 lanes. Work continued at pace to recover and remove the HGV and its load from the network and then to commence resurfacing. At 17:15 all lanes were open on the westbound carriageway. By 20:35 due to falling delays, the closure between J13 and J12 was removed and the original closure between J12 and J11 remained in place. A decision was also made to cancel the planned roadworks at J12 (roundabout) and all efforts were directed to restoring full capacity to the affected section of the M4 eastbound.
Finally at 00:03 confirmation was received that the resurfacing and white lining works were complete and that the eastbound carriageway was fully reopened once again. Throughout the incident, our National Incident Liaison Officers and Highways England Press Officers endeavoured to keep the media updated through updated reports, and also our customers via social media (Twitter).
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