M1 remains the road to nowhere with chaos set to drag on for days
Monday 18 April 2011
The chaos that plagued motorists at the weekend shows no sign of abating, as the main artery connecting London and the North still faces days of closure and delays after a fire on Friday.
A seven-mile stretch of the M1 was put out of action following a fire at a scrapyard under the motorway, disrupting journeys for thousands of people making their way to the capital for football or the London Marathon.
But the closure is worse than expected and is now due to continue throughout the week – disrupting trade, commuters and holiday traffic.
Yesterday two northbound lanes reopened and it was expected that one southbound lane would be back in use today but engineers have refused to be more optimistic, only saying that they "hoped" the motorway will be back in full three-lane use by the end of the week. Meanwhile, drivers have been told to avoid the M1 or to expect "significant delays".
"It's a huge disappointment," Paul Watters, the head of public affairs at the AA, said. "Clearly they've got more of a problem than they thought they had. I suspect people are working their socks off to get it reopened, but they can't be 100 per cent satisfied with their work when a major national motorway is shut for nearly a week."
The blaze, thought to have been arson, damaged one of the few raised sections of the motorway and forced the Highways Agency to close junctions 1-4. Firefighters set up a hazard zone because the yard was used to store gas cylinders. Eight fire engines and 40 firefighters were dispatched to the scene.
"The Highways Agency will have to consider whether it's safe to have scrapyards underneath these structures," Vicki Burn, a spokeswoman for the RAC, said. "They will need to work out what has to be done to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Mike Penning, a Transport minister, said the motorway would not fully reopen until later this week. "It is going to be a frustrating time," he said. "This is a pre-cast concrete bridge and the heat has damaged it so badly there are steel beams exposed that are part of the structure of the bridge.
"The hard shoulder was particularly badly damaged, and engineers were working to erect a structure under the affected part of the road to give it the stability needed to carry the weight of traffic.
"If people think the motorway is open tomorrow and we only have a couple of lanes, we will have congestion. So what I'm saying to people is, only use the M1 if you have to," Mr Penning said.
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...