National Highways has teamed up with Kier and Highway Care to trial automated taper ‘SwiftGates’ which can close off lanes in minutes and saves road workers having to put out cones in the face of oncoming traffic.
The innovation can be fully deployed in around five minutes compared to the 25 minutes it takes road workers to put out the taper of cones directing often fast-moving traffic away from a live lane, said National Highways in a press release.
SwiftGate is currently being installed at the A3 Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey, UK, which requires regular closures for essential maintenance work.
As well as avoiding the need for workers to manually set out tapers, the arms are a strong visual deterrent which will help avoid incursions, particularly at night.
Martin Bolt, head of lean and continuous improvement , who has been overseeing the innovation for National Highways, said: “Installing and removing a taper of cones in the face of traffic exposes our road workers to risk, particularly on elevated sections of road, bridges, or tunnels where there may not be an embankment or place of safety.
“If successful, SwiftGate is another step to zero live lane working for our workforce as we work towards our goal of ensuring nobody is harmed while working or travelling on our roads.
“The automated tapers free up workers to do other jobs and can be put out in just 50 seconds meaning work can begin straight away with less disruption for road users. We look forward to seeing SwiftGate in action at Hindhead Tunnel.”
Mark Sheppard, Kier Highways senior project manager, said: “The SwiftGate project will give us a great opportunity to trial something that is completely new to the National Highways network, that will modernise the standard approach to road worker protection.
“Traffic management installation can be a high-risk activity, so the opportunity to introduce an automatic solution that has the potential to remove the need to put our workforce in the ‘firing-line’, is a worthy project.”
Highway Care Business Development Director Ben Duncker added: “We are very pleased, after many months of hard work from the project team, that we are able to commence the trial of this exciting, safety innovation working collaboratively with Kier and National Highways.
“We are confident that the system will be a success in not only improving the safety of our traffic management operatives but also improving customer journeys through the faster and more efficient closing and reopening of lanes.
“Safety through innovation is our priority and the ability to trial such new solutions with National Highways is a testament to their commitment to making the roads safer for all users.”
Image: One of the arms of SwiftGate currently being installed at the Hindhead Tunnel (Credit: National Highways)
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