M6 closed in Lancashire as lorry crashes into bridge

Lorry crashes into motorway bridge Image copyright North West Motorway Police
Image caption North West Motorway Police say the lorry driver does not have life-threatening injuries

The M6 has been closed in both directions in Lancashire after a lorry crashed into a bridge, leaving hundreds of drivers caught up in delays.

It happened between junctions 33 at Galgate, Lancaster, and 32 at Broughton, Preston, at 06:45 BST.

The lorry driver was taken to hospital but was "doing fine", police said.

A support prop will be installed and structural tests carried out overnight but the motorway is likely to remain shut throughout rush hour on Friday.

Image copyright North West Motorway Police
Image caption Insp Andy Trotter said the HGV was the only thing holding the bridge up

The crash cracked the cattle bridge's stanchion and was now "the only thing holding it up", a Lancashire Police spokesman said.

Shortly after 21:00 Highways England said nobody was "stuck" on the motorway but drivers travelling south are still facing delays of about 75 minutes.

There is also a 10-minute delay on the northbound carriage.

The lorry had been carrying a load of 'Wagon Wheels' biscuits and other confectionary.

Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Police officers handed out bottles of water and sandwiches to drivers on the M6 and A6

The closure affected traffic heading to the Kendal Calling music festival near Penrith, and Burnley fans travelling north to Aberdeen for their Europa League clash.

Insp Andy Trotter said the lorry was "embedded" in the bridge.

Officers have been handing out bottles of water and sandwiches donated by supermarkets to drivers.

Writing on Twitter, motorist Adi Fawcett thanked the force for the "cold water" he had been given "on a ridiculously hot day".

Other drivers have also tweeted their gratitude to officers who offered refreshments to families.

A Highways England spokesman warned drivers that surrounding roads were "extremely busy and slow-moving" and advised people to beware of the heat and stay hydrated.

Image caption The normally busy M6 has been left empty as emergency services make the cattle bridge safe
Image caption Police said the lorry was "embedded" in the bridge

The incident has also affected traffic on the M61 as well as the M55 and A6.

Drivers have been advised to find alternative routes or delay their journeys.

Darren Wilson, who was travelling to the Kendal Calling festival described the disruptions as "chaos".

Meanwhile, Burnley football supporters travelling north were advised by the club to find alternative routes.

People heading to Kendal Calling were urged to consider using the M1 and A1, before joining the M6 at Penrith via the A66.

Phil Stockford, of Highways England, thanked drivers for their patience during what he said would be a "delicate operation" to support the bridge while the lorry and support pillar can be removed.

He said: "We'll be working this evening and overnight to do this but will not open the motorway until we are satisfied that we have removed the risk of the bridge collapsing.

"We're hoping to have this temporary arrangement in place and the motorway open by around 9am."

He added: "In the meantime drivers should avoid this section of the M6 if at all possible and look for alternative routes or delay their journeys."

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