This is definitely not intended to invite negative comments, just to educate and help understanding.
Recently I have been affected by 2 total closures of the M1 during evening busy periods. One was due to a car fire, the smoke from which was obscuring the road. I wonder why the road was closed for ages instead of putting the burning car out, but that’s a different story….
The other one was last night. The M1 was closed between J25 and J24A in Southbound direction from 3 pm to approx 9 pm (I’m led to believe anyway). This caused approx 20 miles of tailbacks southbound and approx 10 miles of tailbacks on the unaffected and fully open north bound carriageway. I was travelling North.
Anyway, the point of this thread is to ask basically why does it take SO long to remove casualties, remove debris and get the road running again? I went past the scene at 18:30 and could see both cars and truck in the carriageway and I couldn’t really see any activity except for a guy putting out cones between lanes 2 and 3 (maybe to open a single running lane past the scene?) There were no ambulances anywhere and no-one in the vehicles.
The traffic built up behind the scene was being turned round and sent Northbound to exit at J25, on the ‘wrong side of the road’ if you like. This was all under control. Some longer HGVs clearly couldn’t be turned round and were parked up (lucky them with fridges, beds, TV, microwaves etc,)
As I am in the car for extended periods on my own, it gives me time to think about things.
I understand that there was a fatality at the scene (which must be very difficult for relatives etc), and that information has to be gathered to ascertain what happened and to determine any appropriate blame (and any legal proceedings by CPS)
What I don’t understand is why it takes so long to do this activity.
The fundamental question is what activities happen and what evidence is gathered additional to the many, many eye witness statements (which need not be taken at the roadside, but could be done in the safe confines of the next service station (5 minutes, max), for example) to assist in determining what went wrong?
I did a tiny calculation and estimated that approx 50,000 vehicles would have been affected for on average one hour on the motorway (and this is before you consider extra journey times for the diversion). Assuming an average occupancy of 1.5 people per car, then that equates to 75,000 WASTED man hours only for the directly affected vehicles queuing on the motorway. Clearly far more people will be affected by long delays on diversionary routes. But taking the 75,000 hours – that equates to 8½ Man years.
Does the extra information gleaned from the scene, information that the many eye witnesses couldn’t give, justify this 8½ man years wasted as a direct consequence due to delays on the actual motorway only? This clearly does not begin to calculate the true cost to the country and economy as a whole. What extra info can be taken? Do eye witnesses not supply the vast share of the total information recorded?
Basically, is it in the ‘public interest’ to close the motorway for extended periods of time?
This has turned into war and peace, but it’s a worthy question.