M27 fatal crash: National Highways update over gantry and when motorway could reopen

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An M27 gantry damaged in a fatal lorry crash is currently being removed, National Highways revealed in an update.

Gantry being removed on M27. Pic: National HighwaysGantry being removed on M27. Pic: National Highways
Gantry being removed on M27. Pic: National Highways

The authority had earlier said "urgent assessments" were being carried out to decide if the overhead structure would have to removed after being struck by a lorry near junction 5 on Wednesday around 12.30pm, which then exploded into flames hours later. The lorry driver, a man in his 30s, died at the scene of the three-vehicle crash that saw three people arrested over death by dangerous driving.

Now National Highways has revealed inspections carried out found the gantry would have to be removed as it is unsafe. Work has now began to remove the 9m structure - with it "unknown how long" the stretch of M27 would be closed for. The authority had predicted earlier this morning the motorway would be open this evening - but that was before the decision was taken to remove the gantry.

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The westbound closure will remain in place between junctions 9 and 5 to allow for the removal of the gantry and planned works will also take place on that stretch throughout the closure.

M27 crash scene. Pic: National HighwaysM27 crash scene. Pic: National Highways
M27 crash scene. Pic: National Highways

A statement from National Highways said: "The gantry in question was decommissioned and switched off yesterday and teams are due on scene to begin work on removing the gantry at noon today (Thursday). Other work in the area, which would have taken place under closures at a later date, are also being carried out to minimise future disruptions.

"It is unknown how long the removal will take and drivers should plan their journeys before setting off. While the closure remains in place, road users are being asked to follow the official diversion route."

Mark Hallett, National Highways operations manager in the South East, said: “Any loss of life on our network is a tragedy and our thoughts are with those affected by what happened yesterday. This is a complex situation and removing the damaged gantry will take a number of hours. This is a structure that is 9m tall and spans multiple lanes of traffic.

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“The safety of those travelling on our network is our number one priority and keeping the entire carriageway closed is the safest way for us to remove the gantry. My advice to road users is please avoid the area. If that’s not possible, please allow yourself extra time to complete your journey.”

For further updates you can follow National Highways (South East) on 'X' @HighwaysSouthEast

You can also contact National Highways by calling: 0300 123 5000 or via email: [email protected]