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M25 closure: Drivers face miles of tailbacks with more disruption to come on Sunday

The M25 closure left drivers facing lengthy tailbacks with more disruption expected on Sunday.

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.

The effect was seen on Saturday morning with two miles of congestion in Surrey after the section of the road was closed.

iona and Patrick Potter, residents of West Byfleet take a selfie on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet, that crosses over a closed section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed. (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
iona and Patrick Potter, residents of West Byfleet take a selfie on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet, that crosses over a closed section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed. (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

National Highways South East (NHSE), in a post to X, formerly Twitter, said the tailbacks were at the approach to the closure at junction 10 on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, traffic began to build along the main diversion route through Byfleet, West Byfleet, Woking and Ottershaw.

By 8pm on Saturday, NHSE was warning drivers the diversion route was “congested” and advising travellers to “please only use the M25 and diversions if your journey is necessary”.

The problems were made worse after a multi-vehicle collision between junction five at Sevenoaks and junction six at the M23 brought traffic to a standstill with five mile tailbacks and delays of 45 minutes being reported on Saturday evening.

Shortly after 9pm it announced “good progress” had been made with the work, adding: “We will again work throughout the night to continue the demolition and gantry installations.”

Concerns have been raised thousands of drivers will be stuck in gridlocked traffic over the weekend during the unprecedented closure, with one councillor calling it a “nightmare”.

Vehicles queue along the street going into Weybridge (AFP via Getty Images)
Vehicles queue along the street going into Weybridge (AFP via Getty Images)

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 motorway traffic along Aroads.

Daryl Jordan, of Woking Borough Council, told the PA news agency residents will be “affected massively”.

He said: “It’s going to be a nightmare.”

South East Coast Ambulance Service, which covers Surrey, urged drivers to clear the way for ambulances ahead of a “challenging weekend” for crews.

Business owners in the areas along the diversion route have told of cuts they have made to their services in anticipation of traffic.

Mark Pollak, owner of Billy Tong, which caters for events and sells biltong atmarkets, said he expects to see 50% of the firm’s turnover for the weekend go“down the drain”.

Mr Pollak said he had to refuse a request for Billy Tong to cater an event inGuildford and had to cancel its stall at Surbiton Farmers’ Market on Saturday,with staff not wanting to face expected traffic to get to jobs.

Motoring experts are warning official estimates of congestion levels may be “optimistic” while local councillors in areas where motorway traffic will bediverted are anticipating “gridlock”.

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

This includes many airline passengers travelling to, from and between the UK’s two busiest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.

Four more daytime closures of the 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.

But Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry said she hoped theclosure might point to the possibility of “driver behaviour” changing.

The former Camden councillor said: “For a few days, the busiest part of the M25 has been literally turned into a low traffic neighbourhood, and somehow thediversion route in Surrey is currently quieter than it normally is. “Can driving behaviour... change?”