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M25 closures: Fears of gridlock as section of motorway closed

by Staff
  • By Emily Coady-Stemp & Marc Ashdown
  • BBC News, South East

Image caption,

The closure is in place for the demolition of a bridge and the installation of a new gantry

There are fears thousands of motorists could get stuck in gridlocked traffic after the closure of a section of the M25 in Surrey for the entire weekend.

A five-mile stretch along both carriageways between junctions 10 and 11 was closed at 21:00 GMT Friday and will remain shut until 06:00 on Monday.

National Highways says about 270,000 drivers use the stretch on a weekday.

Project lead Jonathan Wade said: “Drivers should only use the M25 if their journey is absolutely necessary.”

Eight lanes of normally heaving, buzzing traffic were a sun-drenched picture of tranquillity on Saturday morning.

Traffic seemed to be flowing fairly steadily along the designated detour route, with drivers urged to heed the advice not to “try to be clever” and seek out alternatives.

But the tiny roads and villages around this part of Surrey are simply not well suited to the volume or size of vehicles heading their way.

Image caption,

The usually busy M25 is empty as travellers are re-routed through Surrey’s towns and villages

It is the first time there has been a scheduled daytime closure of all lanes on the M25 since it opened in 1986.

The closure is to enable the demolition of a bridge and the installation of a new gantry as part of the junction 10 improvement scheme, which is due to be completed in mid-2025.

National Highways said modelling carried out in the development of the plans indicated vehicles would face delays of up to five hours without mitigation measures, such as urging drivers to stay away.

The agency said the carriageway between junctions nine and 11 typically carried between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles per hour in each direction between 10:00 and 21:00 at the weekend.

Mr Wade told drivers to “avoid the area entirely, change their plans or take the train”.

Cobham Veterinary Centre is on the diversion route and has been affected by roadworks for more than a year.

Andrew Bradnock from the vets told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve had a few clients who have now left because getting backwards and forwards to us is so difficult for them they decided to move to practices closer to them.

“There’s no way I’m going be able to get in or out of here, it’ll be gridlock because the diversion they have set is virtually going past our front door.”

Emergency services are also warning of a difficult weekend.

South East Coast Ambulance Service said on X, formerly Twitter: “It’s likely to be a challenging weekend for our teams.

“Please be aware of any emergency vehicles looking to progress through any likely heavy traffic.”

St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, warned patients to “only visit if necessary”.

Some school sports fixtures scheduled in Surrey have been postponed and the Royal Horticultural Society says its garden in Wisley “will try to remain open”.

Image caption,

It is the first time there has been a scheduled daytime closure of all lanes on the M25 since it opened in 1986

Travellers affected may include people going to Gatwick and Heathrow Airports and the Channel ports, as well as concert-goers, sports fans and holidaymakers travelling to London and surrounding areas, National Highways said.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, told BBC Radio 4 Today programme if people needed to catch a flight they should take the train or allow plenty of time if they drive.

“It is unprecedented. We haven’t closed the M25 for an entire weekend before… so the best thing is allow plenty of time and think ahead,” he said.

The closure will be the first of five between now and September as part of a £317m upgrade.

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