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).


Did you find this bul­letin use­ful? We really wel­come your feed­back. Please click here to help us. Thank you.