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M25 closure – live: Gridlock begins around Wisley and Chertsey as stretch of motorway shut all weekend

A view of traffic approaching junction 10 of the M25 in Surrey during a site visit ahead of a planned closure of both carriageways

(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Drivers have been warned to “stay at home” as the unprecedented closure of the M25 is expected to cause a “carmageddon” of gridlock traffic this weekend.

Tailbacks of two miles had already begun on Saturday in the run-up to the five-mile closure between Junctions 10 and 11 in Surrey, which was closed in both directions at 9pm on Friday and will remain shut off until 6am on Monday while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed.

It is the first planned daytime closure of the motorway – which encircles London – since it opened in 1986. An 11.5-mile diversion route has been created to direct traffic along A roads.

National Highways said modelling carried out while it was developing its plans for this weekend indicated vehicles would face delays of up to five hours without mitigation measures, such as urging drivers to stay away.

Project lead Jonathan Wade said: “Please don’t travel if you can avoid it.”

The M25 normally carries between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles in each direction every hour from 10am until 9pm at weekends between Junctions 9 and 11.

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Two miles of congestion leading up to diversion

National Highways has warned of two miles of tailbacks in the lead up to the closed section of the M25.

A five-mile stretch of the motorway between junctions 10 and 11 was closed in both directions at 9pm on Friday and will remain inaccessible until 6am on Monday while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry installed.

Andy Gregory16 March 2024 10:54

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M25 closure becomes tourist attraction

Dozens of sightseers are converging on the point where the main diversion route for the weekend closure of the M25 crosses the deserted motorway.

Cars, trucks and coaches are being directed from Junction 10 northeast up the A3, but then go sharply left to head west on the A245 – which is carrying a heavy burden of traffic across the M25.

“It’s absolutely astonishing,” says Simon Vassallo, who has lived in the area for 35 years. He is out early “to stock up on provisions” ahead of the traffic building up.

Mr Vassallo told The Independent: “When we came across the bridge this morning, we just had to stop, take a few pictures and take in the marvel that is an empty M25.”

Another local man, Terry Craig from West Byfleet, is savouring the sight. “It’s quite extraordinary to see the motorway, all of these lanes, just shut off. It’s incredible. Apart from Covid, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like this.”

Jill Holland, also from West Byfleet, is out for a bike ride. “This is the main road between West Byfleet and everywhere else. Avoid us completely.”

Jill Holland was cycling along the M25 diversion route

(Simon Calder/The Independent)

Andy Gregory16 March 2024 09:58

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Why is the M25 closed this weekend and how bad will traffic be?

“Stay home weekend”: that is the appropriate slogan between 15 and 18 March for motorists who normally use the southwest quadrant of the M25 motorway.

National Highways says the closure is “to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry”. It says: “Without a full closure of the M25 at this junction, it would be impossible to safely demolish the overbridges and install the new gantry.”

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has more details here:

Andy Gregory16 March 2024 09:38

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Locals fear ‘nightmare’ closure

The first planned daytime closure of the M25 could be a “nightmare”, a councillor fears as local residents and businesses along the diversion route brace for the impact.

Daryl Jordan, of Woking Borough Council, told the PA news agency the Byfleet Road, which is close to junction 10, had been “chock-a-block” on Friday afternoon.

He said residents will be “affected massivel”, adding: “It is pulling people apart. I mean, you know, when you work full-time and then you’re going to get home tonight from work thinking ‘I must fill the fridge up’ and you can’t even get into your own village.

“It’s going to be a nightmare. Just going down the road to get milk is going to be a problem … or picking up your dry cleaning.”

Andy Gregory16 March 2024 09:10

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‘It’s going to be pandemonium around here’

Stefan Russell from West Byfleet is up and about early to contend with the closure of the M25. His village is in the middle of the diversion route.

“My wife did the shopping yesterday because she knows that for the weekend she’s not going to be able to get out,” he said. “I’m going to take my son to a football match in Kent. So this is not a good day for me at all.

“I’m going to leave in about 45 minutes, once I’ve had this coffee and I’m going to go the A3 way and hope to God that the traffic isn’t built up already.”

Mr Russell says the weekend closure is “ridiculous”, adding: “It’s going to be pandemonium around here, and yeah, I just don’t think it’s very well planned.”

“Do it through the night. Just do it through the night because it’s going to be gridlocked later. I’ve got another football match to get to tomorrow in Cardiff. So again, I’m going to struggle to get out. I just think it’s crazy.”

Simon Calder16 March 2024 08:52

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‘I’m prepared to sit in traffic for a couple of hours if I need to’

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder reports:

Megan Goddard lives between Cobham and West Byfleet. She said: “I feel like the traffic is going to be even worse today, so it’s not great, but yeah. People need to get to places. I’m going to be travelling to work, and then I’m going to leave enough time to get home.

“So I’m prepared to sit in traffic for a couple of hours if I need to.”

Ricus Roets from Walton on Thames is on his way to play golf at Pyrford Golf Club – without his car.

“Today the M25 is closed and the the journey back would have been very, very tough. So I’ve taken the train from Walton to West Byfleet. And then I will get a lift with a friend to the golf club.

“People aren’t able to open their shops. People are going to lose business and that. But I mean, what’s the alternative?”

“If it’s to improve the motorways and make travel better, then I think it’s all good and it’s only one weekend of the year. And I think people could make other plans for this one weekend.”

Unfortunately another four weekend closures of the same stretch are closed this year.

(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Andy Gregory16 March 2024 08:39

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Don’t use satnav, drivers urged

Drivers have been urged not to use Satnavs while a five-mile stretch of the M25 is closed while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed.

National Highways senior project manager Daniel Kittredge said using the technology could create “additional issues” on the motorway.

“If people move away from diversion routes that we prescribe, it creates additional issues in different parts of the road network,” he said.

“The majority of the time that will be local roads, so that really impacts residents in those particular areas.

That’s why we’re trying to encourage people to not follow the satnav. Stick on the prescribed diversion route. It’s going to be more suitable for your journey.”

Drivers have been urged not to use Satnavs while a five-mile stretch of the M25 is closed

(PA Wire)

Alexander Butler16 March 2024 07:17

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M25 closure map, diversions and alternative roads to use this weekend

Drivers are being urged to ignore satnavs to prevent causing gridlock during an “unprecedented” closure of the M25 this weekend.

National Highways issued the alert as it prepares to close a five-mile stretch of the motorway in Surrey from 9pm on Friday until 6am on Monday.

The company estimates that drivers who follow signs for diversion routes on A-roads will have an hour added to their usual journey times between junctions 10 and 11, which will be shut in both directions.

Joe Middleton16 March 2024 06:00

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What’s the recommended diversion?

Jonathan Wade, senior project manager for National Highways, told The Independent: “It’s not going to be a particularly pretty picture over the coming weekend: there aren’t any immediately obvious diversionary routes.

“ Please, if you can either avoid travelling completely, find something to do at home – decorate the bathroom or something or play in the garden.

“If you must go: travel by train, walk, use a bicycle.

The diversion route involves the A3, the A245 and the A320.

Mr Wade urges: “Avoid driving anywhere around those diversionary routes around Painshill, Byfleet, West Byfleet on on the eastern side of Woking. It will be in your interests.”

To make matters worse, some local train lines are closed for engineering work – with passengers warned that rail replacement buses could take even longer because of getting caught up in extreme traffic jams.

Listen to The Independent’s travel podcast with Jonathan Wade – the man who is closing the M25

Joe Middleton16 March 2024 05:00

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Hospital urges people ‘only visit if necessary’ as M25 closures to cause gridlock traffic

St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey urged people to “only visit if it is necessary” this weekend.

It said in a statement: “Please be aware of the diversions that will be in place and that there is likely to be considerable congestion in the local area.

“Please plan your journey allowing extra time as it is likely to take longer than usual.”

Some school sports fixtures scheduled for this weekend in Surrey have been postponed because of the M25 closure.

Joe Middleton16 March 2024 04:00

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