Driving efficiency into road planning
In the highways industry, there is, quite rightly, a well-worn path of using Consultants to advise on best practice. There is nothing wrong with this approach as long as you are sure the Consultants are knowledgeable on the latest thinking and open minded to trying new ideas, but all too often their solutions are based on tried and trusted solutions because the Consultant feels secure using technology they have always used. Of course this approach can be suitable, but in many instances they may be working on an old understanding of what technology can achieve or not aware of other technologies that are now available in the market. Often, these newer technologies are able to do the job either cheaper, more efficiently, more accurately and/or for longer.
Sometimes it’s correct to apply the tried and trusted, but nowadays it’s worth looking at what is new and recognising if time and technology has moved on. Clearview works with Consultants and road maintenance teams alongside highway departments and local authorities, and their experience highlights the constant adaptation and adjustments of solutions to suit the needs to the specific situation.
Take for example loop technology. At Clearview they use loops on some solutions where the road will not degrade or be dug up too often, but they also have the M100 wireless vehicle detector solution. These magnetometer sensors do the same job as loops but offer quicker installation, lower maintenance costs and no trunking or ducting down the roadside. All of this offers considerable cost savings when compared to traditional loops, but all too often these are not used as no one was aware of, or open to an alternative to loops at the specification stage.
If there were more openness and discussions with suppliers as well as Consultants at a specification stage of a project, the industry would be able to develop its technical solutions more rapidly and improve the solutions on our roads.
An example of this is the recent major junction upgrade on the M25. To combat the existing and anticipated congestion there has been a widening of the M25 in both directions between junction 30 and the A126. In addition, the A13 running through the junction has been widened to four lanes in each direction, with new dedicated link roads created and existing slip roads improved. As part of the traffic flow around the junction, there are four sets of traffic lights in operation. These needed to be upgraded to enable general detection and MOVA control. As part of the upgrade there was a strong consideration on how to keep traffic disruption to a minimum. Clearview Intelligence worked with the Design Consultants, Jacobs and principle contractors Balfour Beatty Skanska over the course of 18 months to help specify the best solution for the Junction 30 traffic signals. One of the main considerations was the amount of cabling that would be required to connect the lights to the in-road detection units.
Clearview’s M100 Vehicle Detection units use wireless communications to ‘talk’ to the traffic lights to inform them of traffic density. This means no ducting/trenching work or loop cutting across lanes is required. This significantly reduces the cost of installation through less materials and installation time and, as only temporary single lane closures are needed, it removes the challenge of full slip road closures and associated costs of road management teams.
As part of the improvements, Telent were asked to upgrade the existing traffic lights to their ‘plug and play’ installation system. Having worked with Clearview over several years Telent were aware of the benefits of the M100 Wireless Vehicle Detection technology as a viable and cheaper alternative to traditional in-road loops and so could easily integrate the technology into their traffic control system.
Each of the 4 sets of traffic lights were upgraded to MOVA using M100 technology, 62 M100 sensors were installed with associated access points and repeaters across the junction.
The inclusion of Clearview as a supplier at the specification stage and their ability to adapt products to fit with other supplier’s products meant there were large cost savings on the table from the start of the project as well as using a more serviceable and future facing technology on the road network.