HIGHWAYS AGENCY ofcials are to review emergency access to the motorway network after an accident on the M25 last Friday trapped thousands of people for more than eight hours.
Traffic jams stretched for 29km after an intense petrol tanker fire closed the London orbital road in both directions between junctions 8 and 10 shortly before 10am.
The clockwise carriageway reopened at around 3pm with the anti-clockwise carriageway remaining closed until shortly before 6pm while the road was resurfaced.
Stranded motorists could not be diverted off the road because there are no emergency crossover points in the central reservation on that stretch of road.
Temperatures soared to 26°C, and Police airlifted water to motorists. Three people were treated for heat exhaustion.
Mouchel Parkman senior project engineer Bogdan Schiteanu, was trapped in the jam. 'Why has the Highways Agency abandoned the use of emergency crossing points in the central reserve?' he said.
'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 involved turning vehicles around on the anti-clockwise carriageway and allowing them to exit the motorway, travelling the wrong way up the entry sliproad at Junction 9.
The Agency said that it was now reviewing its emergency access arrangement across the network.