The M6 was completely shut in both directions for hours today, causing five miles of tailbacks and delays, when a woman fell from the motorway bridge into oncoming cars.
There was chaos on the motorways as the region woke to being battered by stormy weather and torrential rain – with worse on the way over the weekend.
The woman fell at around 4.24am, shutting the southbound carriageway between junction eight for the M5 and junction seven at Great Barr.
The same stretch of the northbound carriageway was shut minutes later and remained closed for around five hours until it was re-opened at around 9.30am. The woman died at the scene.
Problems on the motorway were made worse by another two-car crash on the M6 northbound carriageway between junction eight for Great Barr and junction nine for Wednesbury at around 6.30am, which caused a diesel spillage.
Traffic backed up to junction five for Castle Bromwich and as far as junction 10 at Walsall at the height of the delays. Simon Foxall, duty operations manager for the Highways Agency, had warned drivers to avoid the area.
West Midlands Police confirmed it was called to the scene at 4.24am to reports that a woman had jumped from a bridge over the M6 near to junction seven.
Force spokesman Pete Edney said: “Officers and colleagues from the ambulance service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Police closed the M6 in both directions following the incident.”
A diversion route was in place from junction seven of the northbound carriageway at Great Barr, taking drivers onto the M5 and back onto the M6 later on. Mr Foxall warned that motorists could feel the knock-on effects of the closure until later in the day. He added: “People should only take that route if it is essential as there are going to be delays. If they do have to travel, they would be better taking an alternative route.”
From Monday, heavy storms are forecast with temperatures to plummet to as low as 6C (43F).