Drivers in first ever M25 closure face five-hour delays and ‘gridlock’

Drivers are facing five-hour delays on the M25 this weekend as councils warn of "gridlock" in town centres. Thousands of motorists are braced for traffic chaos during an unprecedented closure of the motorway [1]while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed. The five-mile stretch of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11 in Surrey will be closed in both directions from 9pm on Friday until 6am on Monday.

It is the first planned daytime closure of the road, which encircles London, since it opened in 1986.

'Gridlock' expected

Official estimates of congestion levels may be "optimistic", the RAC has warned, while councillors in areas where traffic will be diverted are preparing for "gridlock". The M25 normally carries between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles in each direction every hour during the daytime at weekends between Junctions 9 and 11, including those travelling to, from and between Britain's two busiest airports Heathrow and Gatwick. Councillors whose wards line the diversion route are preparing for the worst[2].

Malcolm Cressey, of Runnymede borough council, said: "I think it's going to be a difficult period but we have to sort out those bridges. I think it's going to be very disruptive. "I would certainly urge anybody to try to avoid the area.

It could end up with all sorts of gridlock in our area."

Never seen before

Tahir Aziz, of Woking borough council, said: "We've never experienced something like this before. It will have a significant impact in this area. It will cause huge disruption and delays, and a lot of traffic jams."

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

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But the Government-owned company claims its awareness campaign will help reduce traffic levels by approximately 50 per cent, meaning the length of time added to journeys will be limited to around an hour. An 11.5-mile diversion route has been created to direct motorway traffic along A roads.

'Dire predictions'

National Highways is urging drivers not to use their sat navs to attempt to find quicker alternative routes on minor roads because of fears this could cause major congestion. Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "We must hope National Highways has overstated its dire predictions of sat navs adding to the traffic chaos by taking drivers off the official diversion route, because the temptation to try to skip the queues will be intense, and the impact on actual journey times uncertain.

"Whilst the modelling suggests around an hour might be added to people's travel time, that will feel optimistic to anyone used to the frustrations of driving round the M25 on days even without major construction works under way." Four more daytime closures of the M25 will take place up to September. The project, due to be completed in summer 2025, will increase the number of lanes at Junction 10, which is one of the UK's busiest and most dangerous motorway junctions.

Mr Gooding said: "National Highways needs to learn from this weekend's experience and work closely with neighbouring road managers to minimise the traffic impacts of the further planned closures. "It must give as much certainty and notice as possible - months rather than weeks - to drivers and hauliers, many of whom will be making trips that can't be put off to another day." Earlier this week, National Highways project lead Jonathan Wade said it was tough to forecast the amount of congestion that will be caused by the closure because "it's so unprecedented".

He added: "It's very difficult to determine right now how effective all our traffic management will be.

Please don't travel if you can avoid it."


  1. ^ unprecedented closure of the motorway (
  2. ^ preparing for the worst (