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

Simon Calder’s Travel

“Only travel if necessary”: that is the message from National Highways ahead of the second weekend shutdown of the M25.

A 10-mile stretch of London’s orbital motorway will close between junctions 9 and 10, southwest of the capital, from 9pm on Friday 10 May until 6am on Monday 13 May 2024.

Travellers accessing Heathrow and Gatwick airports will be affected, as will many motorists heading for Channel crossings in Kent.

Junction 10, at Wisley, is the busiest interchange on the entire motorway. It links the M25 with the A3 trunk road between London and Portsmouth.

A 19-mile signposted diversion will be in place, which will take drivers into part of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez). Vehicles that do not meet the required emissions standards need not have pay the £12.50 daily charge so long as they keep to the official diversion route.

These are the key questions and answers.

Why is the closure happening?

National Highways says it is necessary for “the installation of a bridge and gantry” as part of a £317 million project to improve junction 10 – which handles 300,000 motorists per day.

“Our improvements will reduce congestion, create a smoother flow of traffic and provide safer journeys for thousands every day,” National Highways says.

The organisation is promising:

  • A larger roundabout with extra lanes to increase capacity.
  • Free flow left turns at all four corners of the junction.
  • New and safer routes for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
  • Improvements to the local environment and wildlife.

What is the official advice?

During the first weekend closure of the M25 in March, disruption was minimal. Before the event, Jonathan Wade, the National Highways executive responsible for the project, advised local people to “decorate the bathroom”.

There is concern that after the absence of massive traffic jams last time, the motoring public may be complacent and assume that roads in the area will be clear.

National Highways now says: “We’re grateful to all drivers last time who avoided the closure and completed their journeys in other ways. We urge you to do the same again.

“You should only drive through this area during this closure if your journey is essential as we expect there will be long delays during this time.

“Long distance and local diversions will be in place. Drivers should look to re-route or re-time their journey or…

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