This year’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Roads Conference, which took place on April 20th, made smart motorways and roads its focus, with investment priorities, analysis of performance, technological demand and future change all on the agenda.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of travel in the UK takes place on the road network, a decline in maintenance and a rise in the number of highways and byways that need urgent attention have been seen in recent years.
As civil engineering consultants were told, road travel will continue to be the preferred way of getting around for most people, so the role that roads have to play in supporting future housing and development, as well as economic growth, cannot be underestimated.
The conference earlier this month gave the industry the perfect platform on which to debate how to deliver an improved network of smarter roads, while creating a sustainable transport system and helping people understand how funds will be invested.
“Electric vehicles, driverless cars, and the ability to develop smart infrastructure is way ahead of the equivalent thinking on the railways. It is also an area where the UK is at the forefront,” the ICE observed.
At the start of this month, Highways England revealed it would be spending £150 million on harnessing new technology as part of its Innovation strategy, including a WiFi road that would see both cars and infrastructure wirelessly connected so drivers can receive news of congestion or advanced road closures. Radar technology will also be trialled on motorways and in tunnels to help improve how breakdowns are detected.