Motorists are being advised that only two lanes of the southbound M6 between junctions 31a and 31 near Preston will be open throughout this evening’s peak travel period following this morning’s collision between two lorries.
The incident, at 1am, resulted in one of the lorries jack-knifing and a ruptured fuel tank spilling diesel across 120 yards of lanes of the hard shoulder, lane one and lane two of the southbound carriageway.
At one stage, three lanes of the four lane carriageway were closed for a police accident investigation but after the lorry was recovered and removed, lane three was re-opened to traffic at around 7am.
Highways Agency contractors and specialist cleaners have been at the scene throughout the morning attempting to clean the diesel from the affected lanes and fully re-open the southbound carriageway but have discovered that the surface is too badly damaged to allow drivers to safely use either lane one or lane two.
Work to resurface lane one and part of the hard shoulder and part of lane two will get underway at 3pm but resurfacing of the rest of lane two will need the closure of lane three later today - probably from 7.30pm. This means that from around 7.30pm this evening only lane four of the carriageway will be open to drivers as work to complete the resurfacing gets underway.
This section of the motorway is a busy commuter route and anyone not needing to travel through junctions 31a and and 31 during this this evening’s peak travel period - with only two lanes available to drivers - is asked to avoid doing so to help ease congestion.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said, “We would like to thank drivers for their patience throughout this morning and as work continues into the evening to re-open the affected lanes. Unfortunately, due to the extent of the diesel spill it has not been possible to effect a simple mop up. The damaged lanes are not safe enough to drive along and large sections will have to be resurfaced.
“We will keep two lanes open until later this evening when traffic flows have dropped and then work to complete the resurfacing with only lane four open to traffic with the other lanes closed so our contractors can work in safety.”
Highways Agency Traffic Officers at the North West Regional Control Centre at Newton-le-Willows have set signs across the local and regional motorway network to advise drivers of congestion in the area.