Emergency Gates to Free Trapped Traffic

The Highways Agency is riding to the rescue of drivers stuck in long queues behind serious incidents on the motorway in Cumbria and north Lancashire. Amey Mouchel, the Highways Agency’s main contractor in the area, is busy installing special gates between key junctions along the M6 and M55 and along the Appleby by-pass on the A66. The special, 16 metre, emergency crossover gates are designed to allow quick and easy access between carriageways otherwise protected by the continuous central reservation barrier. While the gates have a number of uses – such as allowing emergency services and winter maintenance vehicles to turn around onto the opposite carriageway – they will also be used to free ‘trapped traffic’ when major incidents block a carriageway causing hours of delays for drivers stuck behind the incident. In the event of a carriageway along the M6, M55 or A66 being blocked the gates can be opened and traffic can be turned around and away from the incident using one or two lanes along the opposite carriageway. At previous major incidents the Highways Agency has taken a decision to cut the central barrier but that can be time-consuming and also relies on there being some kind of hard standing across the central reservation to prevent larger vehicles from sinking and getting stuck. When traffic is turned around in such incidents the lanes being used are coned off from the rest of the carriageway to allow turning traffic to merge safely further along with the vehicles already on the open carriageway. The gates can also be used on both sides of an incident when there is a total carriageway closure in both directions. The work has been ordered in Cumbria and north Lancashire because of the distances between junctions. In areas where junctions are closer together Highways Agency Traffic Officers, often working with the local police, can usually effect ‘rearward relief’ by turning traffic on the closed carriageway and allowing them to escape at the nearest junction behind them. The gates are being installed at the following locations: * M55 – between junctions 1 and 3 (a distance of approximately 7 miles) * M6 – between junctions 32 and 33 (15 miles) Broughton to Galgate, three gates. * M6 – between junctions 33 and 34 (8 miles), Galgate to Lancaster, one gate * M6 – between junctions 34 and 35 (7 miles), Lancaster to Carnforth, one gate * M6 – between junctions 35 and 36 (9 miles), Carnforth to Kirkby Lonsdale two gates. * M6 – between junctions Junctions 44 and 45 (8 miles), Carlisle North to Guards Mill, one gate. * A66 – along the Appleby By-Pass Bob Baldwin, Highways Agency Area Performance Manager for Cumbria and North Lancashire, said, “We are always looking at ways in which we can minimise the impact of major incidents on drivers. Obviously, we work hard to advise drivers when there has been a major incident so they can delay their journeys or take an alternative route. “However, some drivers are unlucky enough to get caught behind incidents and that causes a whole range of challenges for us in terms of traffic management and driver and passenger welfare. These new gates will just give us one more weapon in our battle against congestion and driver delays.” Taken from: Highways Agency