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Tanker fire triggers motorway emergency plan review

Highways Agency officials are to review emergency access to the motorway network after an accident on the M25 on Friday trapped thousands of people for over eight hours.
Traffic jams stretched for 29km after the orbital road was closed in both directions between junctions 8 and 10 shortly before 10am. The clockwise carriageway reopened around 3pm with the anti-clockwise carriageway remaining closed until shortly before 6pm whilst the road was resurfaced.Stranded motorists could not be diverted off the road because there are no emergency crossover points on that stretch of road. As temperatures soared to 26degC, Police were forced to airlift water to motorists. Paramedics treated three people for heat exhaustion.Bogdan Schiteanu, a senior project engineer for Mouchel Parkman was trapped in the jam. He said: 'Why has the Highways Agency abandoned the use of emergency crossing points in the central reserve?'Motorists were trapped for hours in the heat, between the hard shoulder and the concrete barrier in the central reserve with absolutely no other option than waiting for the road to open! 'If these crossing points were in place hundreds of cars could have turned around and escaped this mess. This system works perfectly in other countries so why is this in not applicable here?The Highways Agency admitted that there was little it could do to rescue motorists.'On this section of the M25 there is a vertical concrete barrier along the length of the central reservation, without any emergency crossover points, therefore releasing trapped traffic via the opposite carriageway was never an option. 'Once the closures were in place we were able to release a certain amount of vehicles 'trapped' on the anti-clockwise carriageway behind the incident by initiating 'rear-ward relief',' he added. This comprised turning vehicles around on the anti-clockwise carriageway and allowing them to exit the motorway, under supervision, by travelling the wrong way up the entry slip-road at Junction 9.The Agency said that it was now reviewing its emergency access arrangement across the network. Mark HansfordRelated links:Today's top stories

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