Over the coming months, the Flemish Traffic Control Center (part of the Agency for Roads and Traffic) in Belgium, BMW Group, Be-Mobile and MAPtm will be testing a new ‘smart tunnel diversion service’ on the Antwerp ring road, as part of the European SOCRATES 2.0 project.
In the Antwerp region, motorway traffic can cross the Scheldt river through two tunnels: the Kennedy Tunnel and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel. The Kennedy Tunnel is the busiest tunnel in the Flanders region, averaging 160,000 vehicles a day. On weekdays, there are traffic jams towards the Netherlands for 11 hours of the day. The Liefkenshoek Tunnel, which is a toll tunnel, is often less busy, as it usually handles a daily average of 40,000 vehicles. The aim of the pilot project is to determine whether a new, smart tunnel service can relieve the congested Kennedy Tunnel and distribute the traffic density more evenly between the two Scheldt tunnels on the Antwerp ring road, even when there are no specific incidents causing extra congestion and traffic jams. The service being tested will be separate from the existing toll-free measures that are in place in case of serious incidents or delays, which will remain unchanged.
The project aims to assess whether the partners can divert and re-distribute traffic in a dynamic and innovative way between the two tunnels, in order to reduce traffic congestion near the much busier Kennedy Tunnel. During the pilot project, road users with a planned route through the Kennedy Tunnel will be proactively offered an alternative route through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel when the Kennedy Tunnel is very busy. If they accept the offered diversion on their navigation system, they will immediately receive a digital voucher, which gives them free passage through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel. The tests are being performed by certain users of the BMW navigation system and Be-Mobile’s ‘Flitsmeister’ traffic app.
The decision to activate the voucher system will be taken by the Flemish Traffic Control Center, which monitors traffic in the tunnels, based on real-time traffic measurements from the MAPtm travel management company. As soon as the traffic density in the Kennedy Tunnel increases, the system starts, and the service providers involved will give road users adjusted travel advice. As soon as the road user accepts the alternative route, they will get a voucher for a free journey through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel.
The pilot project in Antwerp is part of the wider European SOCRATES 2.0 project, in which public and private partners in different cities and in different situations examine how they can optimally work together, in order to provide better and smarter services for road users. Apart from Antwerp, there are also pilot projects in Amsterdam (Netherlands), Copenhagen (Denmark), and Munich (Germany). The cooperating partners are: road authorities (Copenhagen, Flemish government, Rijkswaterstaat, Bast); ITS service providers (Technolution, MAPtm, Here Technologies); a car manufacturer (BMW Group); and various market parties that supply traffic information and navigation services (Be-Mobile, TomTom, BrandMKRS).
To watch a video demonstration of the project, click HERE