As part of its long-term commitment to investing in new technology to improve safety and minimize disruption caused by roadworks and incidents, Highways England (HE) is trialing two innovative new systems in the West Midlands.
HE is investing £150m (US$195m) in innovation to ensure it remains at the forefront of making England’s motorways and major A roads dependable, durable and safe. In the first initiative, the agency is piloting the use of two giant 70 feet (21m) long crash barrier trucks that were originally designed for military use to protect against roadside bombs, but are now keeping road workers and motorists safe. In collaboration with Kier, the 16-tonne mobile barriers have been brought over from the USA and launched in the West Midlands. If struck from the side, the barriers absorb the impact from a moving vehicle, while a truck-mounted crash cushion (attenuator) gives further protection at the rear. As well as improving safety, roadworks take less time to complete as fewer cones and signs have to be deployed in the construction zone.
“These projects demonstrate how emerging technologies, new materials, and ways of working can help improve safety and journeys on our network,” noted Martin Bolt, who is heading up the innovation projects for HE. “The mobile barriers, which are being used for the first time in Europe, are an innovative way of looking at how we can increase protection for road workers. And they’re helping customers too, because the faster we can get the work safely done, the better people’s journeys will be. Together with our partners we are demonstrating that we can make great improvements both to people’s journeys, and communities and the environment around our network.”
Dave Wright, executive director for Kier Highways, commented, “As a company we’re committed to working with our partners to ensure we continuously develop technology that improves safety on the road for both road workers and users. Our improvements team is constantly looking at ways to innovate and pioneer new products that go towards this aim. Our main priority is to make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day and we look forward to expanding mobile barrier use across our other UK contracts.”