A key element of the Forth Replacement Crossing project will go live next week, delivering early benefits to motorists and public transport users.
Extreme weather permitting, the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) is expected to launch on the M90 in Fife from Tuesday (4 December), creating a dedicated bus lane and also variable speed limits which will be used during periods of congestion to smooth traffic flow, cut jams and make journey times more reliable.
Although the system does not require any specialist knowledge or skills from drivers, as part of its information campaign Transport Scotland has produced a short video to give drivers a quick preview of what the system looks like when operational. The video and more information can be found at www.FRCits.info
The system features 17 new gantries and traffic sensors built into the road, which will automatically detect when congestion is likely and vary the mandatory speed limit to help keep drivers moving.
This is the first time such as system will have been used in Scotland. Similar “managed motorways” have been successfully implemented in England, on the on the M25 and M42 for example.
Steven Brown, Roads and Infrastructure Manager for the FRC Employers Delivery Team, said
“We are now almost ready to turn the ITS systems on to help manage and improve traffic flow and provide buses with a dedicated lane. This is expected to happen in the early hours of Tuesday morning (December 4), depending on the weather conditions which will be monitored closely before opening.
“Safety is of paramount importance and the system requires no specialist knowledge or skills. But we would ask drivers to take a few minutes to watch the specially produced video on the website or pick up a leaflet at local libraries and petrol stations to familiarise themselves with the new system.
“The main element of the Forth Replacement Crossing project – the new bridge itself – is still under construction and this system will help traffic management that will still be required before it opens in 2016. We thank drivers for their continued patience.”
The improvements to the M90 and M9 will open in phases with phase 1 (M90 north) in December 2012 and phase 2 (M9 & M90 south) in early 2013.
Phases 1 and 2 of the Intelligent Transport System will help to manage the flow of traffic on the M90 on the approach to any traffic management for roadworks associated with construction of the new bridge until 2016 and through M9 Junction 1A during and after its construction period.
On completion of the Principal Contract in 2016, the ITS system will then extend over a length of 22km from M90 Halbeath junction in the north to the M9 Newbridge Junction in the south. This will also include an operating regime for both bridges, catering for situations when high winds affect the Forth Road Bridge.
This phased opening completes two of the three main contracts let to build the FRC scheme. Fife ITS, delivered by John Graham (Dromore) Ltd, has involved the installation of ITS gantries on M90 between the Admiralty and Halbeath Junctions in Fife and provision for southbound bus hardshoulder running.
M9 Junction 1a, being delivered by Sisk Roadbridge Civil Engineering Ltd, is due to complete early next year. It involves the upgrade and improvements to M9 Junction 1a at Kirkliston, including new west facing slip roads to the M9, and installation of ITS gantries.
- Drivers will notice new overhead message gantries, new fixed signs and road markings.
- The system is designed to reduce congestion and improve safety. Drivers will be familiar with all the signs and messages used and do not require any specialist skills or knowledge.
- During periods of congestion, the mandatory speed limit will be lowered via Red Roundels displayed on the gantries in order to keep traffic moving.
- Remember, these variable speed limits are mandatory and enforceable. This system is proven to reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable.
- The other main improvement is the use of the southbound hard shoulder as a bus lane.
- Road users can always use the hard shoulder in an emergency and buses will be diverted to the normal traffic lanes.
- Drivers should take care at slip roads as buses will often carry straight on and re-enter the bus lane through a green marked lane section. Drivers must not follow buses through this restricted section.
- Be considerate to buses pulling out of the hard shoulder bus lane.
Benefits of the scheme
- ITS is a key element in the forthcoming Forth Replacement Crossing, the biggest Scottish infrastructure project in a generation.
- The project will improve and protect the vital cross-Forth route – a crucial economic artery for Scotland.
- Intelligent Transport Systems increase the efficiency and capacity of roads by improving traffic flow and reducing congestion, in turn helping journey time reliability and reducing emissions.
- Evidence indicates that systems which reduce vehicle queues can reduce accidents resulting in injury by up to 13%.
- There is clear evidence from similar schemes in the UK and across the world that Intelligent Transport Systems increase road operational efficiency, capacity and safety.
- System has been designed with the safety of road users in mind.
- During the construction of the new bridge, it will also help ensure the safety of construction workers as well.
- The system will be kept under close review during the first period of operation to ensure safety.
- Transport Scotland is undertaking an extensive information and training campaign for bus drivers and road users.