Why did 6,000 chickens cross the road?
No, it’s not a joke. And it was certainly no laughing matter for motorists when a big brood of birds spilled out on to the M62 last year. A carriageway was closed and drivers were stuck in long queues as a result.
The people who look after the running of England’s main highways have published a list of the weirdest road spills of recent times. Highways England’s top 10 catalogue of errors include…
Making a jam out of Marmite
Do you love Marmite or hate it? Whichever camp you’re in, the answer from drivers trapped in massive tailbacks on South Yorkshire’s M1 must have been a definite “hate” in November 2011.
That’s because 20 tonnes of the stuff poured on to the motorway, bringing chaos to rush-hour drivers. The Marmite menace caused the road to be closed in both directions.
Lard’s a fat lot of good
No one likes being stuck in queues, but this was the case last week on an Epping slip road.
Lard spilled on to the Essex section of the M11, but the only thing cooking were drivers’ stress levels amid giant delays. A part of the road leading to the M25 was shut for 24 hours after an overturned lorry resulted in a 24-tonne spillage.
Best (or worst) of the rest
What the road bosses say
Melanie Clarke (customer operations director for Highways England) has explained that highways teams naturally try and get things cleaned and cleared up as soon as is humanly possible.
But she adds that sometimes stranger spillages bring stranger challenges. She says that operations can be “somewhat complicated” by unexpected loads of salmon, emulsion paint, risky poisonous chemicals and the like.
Ms Clarke says the agency understands how frustrated motorists can get when their trips are held up.
She adds that it’s more than just a case of just diverting transport off the highway, closing the road and later re-opening it. This is especially the case when a substance is “potentially dangerous”.
Ministers have promised to try and get traffic moving and roads opened faster after spillages. Experts estimate that traffic jams cost the country’s economy around £8 billion every year.