Major studies launched into highways tech and the A1


Two major highways studies have been launched by the Department for Transport (DfT), looking at local authorities' use of traffic management technology and improvements to the A1.

The DfT has awarded consultants Atkins a £95,000, six-month research contract to investigate local highways authorities' use of intelligent transport systems (ITS) and the extent to which they are maximising its benefits.

A spokesperson for the consultancy told Transport Network that it will be carrying out an initial survey of all English local highways authorities, to be followed by a more detailed study of at least 25 of them.

The award forms part of a wider programme in which the department is aiming to work more closely with local authorities in order to identify opportunities for, and promote the advantages of, both existing traffic management technologies and new-style cooperative ITS (C-ITS) systems.

These are being developed to link vehicles and the road infrastructure electronically in the interests of achieving better traffic flows, greater safety and reduced environmental pollution.

The new contract comes within the 2012-2016 Transport Related Engineering Advice and Research (TTEAR) framework, set up to give government departments and agencies fast access to specialised consultancy in the road and rail sectors.

Atkins was appointed as one of four suppliers within the framework in 2012. At the time its strategic advice service director for highways and transportation, Tony Meehan, highlighted its strength in assembling a 'broad supply chain' including small and medium-sized companies.

The news comes as Arup was appointed to carry out a £600,000 study to explore options for improving the A1 in the East of England from its junction with the M25 to Peterborough.

The strategic study will focus on improving the non-motorway section linking the two parts of the A1(M) and bringing consistency to the southern section of the route.

Arup will look at the business case for possible improvements such as changing the alignment of the road and how this could reduce the environmental impact of the route.

Nigel Edwards, divisional director of strategic planning at Highways England, said: 'The A1 is one of our oldest trunk roads, and also one of the least consistent. This study will examine what could be done to improve the road to motorway standard and bring consistency to the southern section of the route.'

The study is due to be completed by the end of 2016.

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