Gates planned for M6 Carlisle to free traffic
Work along the M6 motorway in Cumbria to install three new gates to help release motorists stuck in major incidents is to begin in February.
The Highways Agency said the gates are designed to help turn drivers around onto the opposite carriageway when they are blocked by serious incidents ahead and then stuck in trapped traffic.
EnterpriseMouchel, the Highways Agency's service provider for Cumbria and North Lancashire, is supervising the installation of two new gates between Junctions 41 and 42 of the M6 south of Carlisle and a further gate south of Penrith between Junctions 39 and 40.
The £170,000 scheme is due to begin on Monday 7 February and completed by the end of the month.
The 16 metre emergency crossover gates are designed to allow quick and easy access between carriageways otherwise protected by the continuous central reservation barrier.
Off-peak lane two and three closures on the northbound carriageway and lane three on the southbound, between 8pm and 6am each night, will be used to ensure the gates can be installed safely. A 50mph speed limit will be in place along the short sections of traffic management. The work is not expected to cause any delays.
At previous major incidents the Highways Agency has taken a decision to cut the central barrier but said 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.
The Highways Agency said 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 agency added that 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.
A total of ten gates have already been installed along the M6 between Junctions 45 at the Scottish border and Junction 32 at Broughton in Lancashire.
The three new M6 gates are in addition to those between Junctions 1 and 3 of the M55 and along the A66 west and east of the M6 near Penrith and Appleby respectively.