Highways England installing new technology at the A38 Saltash Tunnel


Highways England (HE) will continue its roads investment in Cornwall next month with a £1.1m (US$1.5m) scheme that will see new technology deployed at the A38 Saltash Tunnel, a key tourist route linking the southwestern UK counties of Devon and Cornwall.

Situated on the western outskirts of the city of Plymouth, the Saltash Tunnel is a unique 1,345-ft (410m) long three-lane ‘tidal flow’ tunnel, which adjoins the Tamar Bridge using advanced control systems to manage traffic travelling in and out of Cornwall and Devon on the A38 major trunk road. Work will start on July 3, and will involve the installation of cutting edge CCTV and emergency public address systems, which will ensure drivers’ safety in the tunnel, and along the A38 from St Budeaux to Carkeel Roundabout. The CCTV will allow operators to monitor traffic flows and adjust the configurations of lanes within the tunnel and over the Tamar Bridge crossing to help ensure journey reliability for drivers. The emergency public address system will allow operators to convey both pre-recorded and live messages to tunnel users in emergency situations as required.

The new equipment will be the same as has been used by Transport for London (TfL) on the capital’s roads, and replaces a legacy system that has been in use for the last 12 years. With a high level of automation of operations, the system provides operators with real-time information, helping in decision making and facilitating quick and accurate management of everything that happens in the tunnel and surrounding road network. A total of 19 new digital CCTV cameras with improved low light capability will be installed, as well as 10 loudspeakers that are specially designed to give clarity to messages inside tunnels.

“The safety of our customers and workforce is always our priority, and that is why we are investing in the latest technology to enhance the system we already have in place in and around the tunnel,” explained HE’s area manager Julian Strong. “Extensive planning has been undertaken to ensure the works will cause the least possible disruption and that is why they are being undertaken overnight from Sunday to Thursday when the A38 is at its quietest. With only a small addition to journey times, we expect A38 drivers to experience little disruption. We have also planned these works to ensure there is no traffic management in place during the day or at any time over the busy summer weekends.”

Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry general manager David List commented, “We welcome these significant improvements in and around the Saltash Tunnel, which will enhance the safety and resilience of the tidal flow traffic management system that we operate on the Tamar Bridge and in the tunnel with our partner, Highways England.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).