From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 3
From BIM Journal Issue 03 – here
Before we look at our Q&A and progress with the rest of the issue it is worthwhile reminding ourselves of the wider remit of the UK Smart Motorway initiative and the major players involved.
Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency) is the Executive Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT) that is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the country’s motorways and main A roads.
As part of £1.5 billion investment to build ten “smart motorways”, Highways England had previously appointed six joint-venture companies to take the programme of work forward. The smart motorway scheme is part of a £15 billion government investment that Highways England is delivering between now and 2021, which will see almost three hundred extra lane miles added to motorways. The hard shoulder will be converted into a traffic lane and signing and technology will tell drivers what speed to drive at or if the lanes are blocked or closed, as well ad advising of incidents that may lay up ahead.
On the back of this, other projects and initiatives seek to provide road users with a benefit of shorter journey times, reduced congestion and increased capacity, creating better local connections and improved passenger journeys.
At the time of going to press these are the companies involved in the Smart Motorway schemes so far:
- Contractor / Designer / Scheme
- Balfour Beatty & Vinci JV / CH2M & Hyder / M4, M5 and M6
- Carillion & Kier JV / Jacobs & Atkins / M6, M20, M23
- Costain & Galliford Try JV / Amey / Arup / M1
- Balfour Beatty / Mott MacDonald & Sweco / M3
- Pending / Mott MacDonald & Sweco / M27
- Pending / Atkins & Jacobs / M60, M56
- Pending / AECOM / M6, M62
What Exactly is a Smart Motorway?
In the words of Highways England, smart motorways are a technology-driven approach to the use of our motorways that increase capacity and relieve congestion while maintaining safety. Smart motorways help to make journey times more reliable as the hard shoulder is used for traffic either permanently or at peak times. Technology is used to monitor congestion levels and to change the speed limit when needed, to smooth the traffic flow.
Smart motorways increase road capacity faster and at less of a cost than traditional road widening schemes and they are just as safe – often safer. The hard shoulder is converted to become a normal lane, or can be opened to traffic when things get congested.
Tried and Tested
As a result of the first smart motorway scheme, the M42 motorway in 2006, there is already evidence of the benefits that these initiatives can bring. Indeed the analysis of data gathered since has found that journey reliability improved by 22 per cent, personal injury accidents reduced by more than half and where accidents did occur, severity was much lower overall with zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured.
Each scheme has its own project web page that can be accessed here.
There are a swathe of initiatives kicking off around the world when it comes to smart highways of course, not least in the USA with the Solar Roadways initiative, think automatic melting of snow and ice. Together with Electric Roads (the first one opened last year in Sweden) with wireless charging also coming into effect as a currently trialled solution by many governments. Plus pollution tunnels, smart tolling, glow in the dark paint, temperature reactive markings, dynamic lines and other ideas are all offshoots of the wider smart highways initiatives the world over. Each of which are projects that we will look at in detail in future issues of BIM Journal of course (notably Smart Cities).
As for the recent announcements by some Dubai media sources of the autonomous flying car then we really do have a rich technological future ahead of us. In the meantime back to the here and now with a project Q&A with David Lowery courtesy of the ICE.
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