In ancient times, dozens of years before the dawn of modern highways, lived a strange type of people, the road engineers.They seemed to know what they were doing at the time, but their legacy remains, paved across the archaeological landscape, of Stonehenge.So the government wants a tunnel dug.The UK’s premier archaeological destination—a ring of stones constructed by the ancients somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago—sits along a roadway known as the A303.However, not every car on this route is bound for the mysterious menhirs.See, the A303 is also one of the main arteries connecting London to the nation’s southwest coast.
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"Digital road" is the equally stupid new way of referring to what has been known as the "smart motorway" for a few years, and we're getting more of them.400 miles more of them, in fact, as statistics say the removal of hard shoulders and the installation of special refuge areas for breaking cars has been a success.Or at least not a disaster.The original smart motorway concept saw hard shoulders disappear from stretches of M-road and variable speed limits introduced, with Highways England saying we should have a total of 788 miles of these non-shouldered cleverer-than-average motorways by April 2025.Since the first wave of smart motorway has been deemed successful, this new push is to increase the roadworks speed limit to 60mph, with the roads authority saying it'll start putting the emergency lay-bys a little closer together too so there'll always be a place for a 2005 Ford Focus to coast to a halt in.Highways England boss Jim O'Sullivan told The Times: "We are now well into smart motorway operation and the statistics we have are reliable.
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Travellers were hit by long delays and schools closed their doors as February began with the coldest night for seven years.A coating of up to 14cm of snow caused havoc in the South West, forcing motorists to abandon their cars and seek shelter as traffic stood still.By Friday evening, RAF Odiham in Hampshire had recorded 19cm of snow.One lane has now opened, Highways England said, but it urged travellers to delay their journeys or find alternative routes.Ex-Wales captain and BBC pundit Sam Warburton was one of the passengers due to fly on the cancelled 9.30am flight from Cardiff Airport to Charles de Gaulle, while fan Leon Brown’s axed flight forced him to put his two game tickets up for sale.Salt-spreaders covered 80,000 miles of England’s motorways and major A roads through the night to keep traffic moving, Highways England said.
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Motorists were told to prepare for delays in cold weather after more than 100 cars were stranded on the A30 near Temple in Cornwall overnight.Highways England said on Friday morning that it had teams of gritters and ploughs working to get traffic moving across the UK as councils put cold weather plans into action.An overturned vehicle on the busy M3 motorway into London was among the early road incidents causing congestion.In Cornwall, two school buses, at Kingsley Village and at Winnard’s Perch, were stuck in the snow, but both vehicles were reached during the early evening, with the children safe and well, the county council said.Despite the cold, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted by enthusiastic crowds in the south west city as they visited its Old Vic theatre.Chris Jackson via Getty Images
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Snow flurries overnight caused travel chaos on Wednesday morning as millions woke up to a thick blanket of the white stuff.Manchester Airport was forced to close its runway until at least 9.30am GMT with passengers advised to check the status of flights with their airline.“The runway is currently closed whilst snow clearing takes place,” the airport wrote to passengers on Twitter.“Take extra care driving in the North West this morning as there are some challenging weather conditions,” Highways England said on Twitter.“Our winter vehicles are out treating road surfaces so please give them plenty of room.”Take extra care driving in the North West this morning as there are some challenging weather conditions with @metoffice warnings for snow.
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One drone owner didn't get the message about being in best behaviour mode for the next few months, as he decided to kill a few hours over Christmas by taking his drone up the top of the Severn Bridge for a little treat.No doubt to generate some content for one of his channels.Things quickly escalated as you might expect, as drone users are currently in the national and international doghouse thanks to the Gatwick furore.Police say it was a man in his 20s, which is what we would've guessed, and he came down quietly – but only after the road was closed for everyone's safety.Highways England, which operates the stretch of the M48 that links England and Wales, explained: "The incident was quickly spotted on our security cameras and reported to police and thankfully there was no injury or worse on this occasion.Appropriate security is in place on the bridge, we are liaising with Avon and Somerset Police and will be undertaking investigations to determine if any damage was caused during the incident."
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MPs are asking for a halt on the introduction of the modern British "smart" motorway, which often sees the hard shoulders of our traffic arteries turned into controlled additional lanes to keep traffic flowing.This is not particularly smart for anyone who suffers a breakdown and borders on the dangerous, they say.The halt on smart motorways has long been called for by pressure group the Campaign for Safer Roadside Rescue and Recovery, and now a cross-party committee of MPs has agreed, with MP Tracy Crouch saying: "We need the government to pause and reflect on whether we're getting this right," adding that there needs to be a better understanding of how to best rescue people who become stranded when there's no extra tarmac available to grind to a halt on.Highways England doesn't agree, though, as it thinks improved broken down vehicle detection systems and shorter gaps between emergency refuge areas -- mini hard shoulder lay-bys -- are a trade off worth making to keep the lifeblood of the country trucking apace.
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You might never have heard of him, but for 1.7m YouTube subscribers, 21 year old Ally Law is a big deal.He isn’t a gamer, nor is he offering make-up tutorials to the nation’s youth - instead, he’s part of a small cadre of YouTubers who devote their channels to pulling off some utterly nerve-wracking stunts.Law will sometimes upload on an almost daily basis and most videos follow the same basic template of him and his pals sneaking into somewhere they shouldn’t be, and essentially causing mischief.Sometimes this is sneaking into a leisure centre or waterpark, and using the swimming pool after hours - and sometimes this is something truly death-defying, such as climbing to the roof of a building, or a crane.Inevitably, many of his videos end with the police arriving, and Law either being arrested, released, or perhaps even successfully running away - not to mention plugging his merchandise store which sells t-shirts and hoodies containing his catchphrase, “It’s a madness”.One such video that fits this template almost entirely was Law’s climb of the M48 Severn Crossing bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning on the 24th February earlier this year.
The National Infrastructure Commission has announced the shortlist of finalists for its competition to design roads fit for autonomous vehicles and the digital economy.The aim of the Roads for the Future competition, launched in partnership with Highways England and Innovate UK, was to encourage the development of ideas to prepare physical infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.Smart traffic lights, flexible use of kerbsides, segregated driverless zones, and sat-navs were among the entries, which did bring forward some pretty interesting ideas.“We can see for ourselves the progress in developing cars for the future, with trials of driverless cars taking place across the country – we now need to make sure the technology on our roads keeps up,” said John Armitt, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission.“These five entries clearly stood out and I look forward to seeing how their ideas develop further over the coming months.”The finalists will not have three months to develop their ideas, before the overall winner will be announced in the autumn.
People staring at traffic lights have had an idea on how to make money from calling them "smart" -- give the things networked indicators that tell drivers how fast they need to go to hit the next set of lights when they turn green.This could speed people through cities without requiring so much braking and accelerating, reducing congestion and taking numerous small exhaust particles out of the sky.It's the idea of engineering specialist AECOM, which now has funding in place to run a simulation of the system using the A59 in York in the hope that the computer will say GOOD IDEA HUMANS and it'll then be able to pitch the concept to local councils across the country.The idea was dreamed up thanks to smart solutions funding offered by the National Infrastructure Commission, Highways England and Innovate UK, with AECOM consultant Heather Hawkins saying: "We are excited and are eager to get started so we can better understand the potential impact of vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies on our local road network in York.We are fortunate to be living and working in a city which has chosen to be an early innovator, deploying and testing these technologies on-street through existing research programmes.It's truly inspiring and we are grateful to be a part of it."
Authorities in charge of cleaning up roadside debris have had enough of you and your improperly secured loads, so much so that there's now a public information campaign designed around telling drivers to tie things on to their car roofs properly.Highways England has some comedy statistics illustrating the menace of flying furniture, revealing that over an undated nine-month period its officers had to pick up the pieces of 40 beds, 96 chairs, 49 cushions, 163 mattresses, 52 sofas and 17 tables, each falling off a car roof and a potentially deadly incident.Apart from perhaps the flying cushions.And that's just in England.We have no numbers for the amount of sofas that fell off car roofs in Wales and Scotland, probably because when it happens in Wales and Scotland the locals run out and set them on fire for something to do, so the problem solves itself.Highways England project manager Amelia Kirwan is taking it extremely seriously because someone could really be knocked unconscious by a loose mattress unleashed at 65mph, and said: "We want all drivers and their items to get home in one piece.
Do you think you have what it takes to engage in banter on a building site?If so, you might be interested in a promotion the government is running at the moment, where members of the public can tour building sites and infrastructure projects to get some sort of idea of what the work entails.It's about encouraging people to think of building and engineering as being more interesting careers than app development and serving coffee to people with MacBooks, with the country's roads manager Highways England giving potential road builders a look behind the scenes of five big projects.If you want to have a look around, some of the site tours are still taking bookings through the government's 2018 Open Doors web site, where you can book a guided bus tour around the A14 roadworks or enjoy the thrill of hearing about the works being done to the Oldbury Viaduct along the M5, plus there are plenty of other non-roads projects open for exploration, like the genuinely exciting opportunity to tour Galliford Try's Airbus wing facility, see some posh flats in London take shape, or watch the concrete being poured at the new Barbara Hepworth wing of the University of Huddersfield.
Commuters are facing travel disruption this morning after a night of heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures has led to train cancellations and blocked roads across the UK.Roads across the UK have already seen a blanketing of snow, with police forces reporting treacherous driving conditions and blocked routes.The wintry weather looks set to continue throughout the early rush hour.Highways England said the M20 in Kent had become blocked by a “number” of stranded lorries overnight, while the A249 was shut due to a crash.PA Wire/PA Images PA Wire/PA ImagesHeavy showers were expected to continue throughout the morning and cripple much of the country’s travel network.
Highways England has shown its first design illustration of how the massive tunnel underneath the fringes of the Stonehenge site may look, with the consultation attempting to appease anti-roads protesters by making the possible tunnels, cuttings and intersections look all lovely and green.The latest plan for the 1.8-mile tunnel is slightly longer than the first dig proposed when the initial idea to modernise the A303 to Cornish Holiday Land was floated, with Highways England saying burying the cars in such a manner will help to "restore the tranquil environment" around the monument up at surface level.There's a canopy covering part of the entrance on the western side now too, which the road builder says has been put in thanks to the result of a public consultation; and now there's a new consultation running over this version of the plan so no one can say they weren't thoroughly consulted.
The government wants driverless cars on British roads by 2021, which is only three years away (blimey).So everyone needs to get a move on if they want to make that happen, and a new driverless car trial seems to be the next step.It'll involve a 200-mile journey across the UK, with cars self-navigating a range of driving conditions including high-speed roundabouts, motorways, and country roads.The trial comes from the Human Drive Initiative, and is part of a collaboration between Groupe Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, Cranfield University, Highways England, and others.The idea being that UK roads are quite different to roads in, say, the US, so they offer more demanding challenges that self-driving cars need to be tested for.The Magic Roundabout in Swindon is probably the perfect example of shit that just doesn't happen elsewhere.
The Highways Agency is currently running a consultation with locals about what to do with a complicated road problem.The problem being a 10-mile stretch of the A63, where cyclists come to its smooth surface and gentle undulations to attack time trial records while cars whizz past at 70mph.It's a bit dangerous, say drivers.Ban the bikes, says the Highways Agency, which says it's all in the interests of the safety of riders, explaining: "Cyclists are travelling on a carriageway that carries average speeds of 65mph for traffic, at a rate of over 2,500 vehicles per hour.In the last five years there have been six accidents involving cyclists, including a fatality in 2013."The local council and police force agree with the plan too, hence there's a good chance that the roads department will get the Traffic Regulation Order needed to ban bikes from the 10 mile stretch between North Cave and Daltry Street in Hull.
Dr Graham Cookson, chief economist at transportation analysts Inrix, said many motorists will find themselves stuck in long queues from Friday afternoon onwards.Highways England reported 46 traffic incidents on motorways and major A-roads before 1pm, including 15 classed as severe.Cookson said it will be one of the worst days of the year on the roads with “incredibly severe” traffic jams.“What we see is roads in congestion for most of the time, average speeds very slow, people crawling along.“The pure weight of traffic means a lot of motorways will be much slower than normal so your total journey takes so much longer.”Inrix data shows that the worst non-accident traffic blackspot on the Friday before Christmas last year was the A303 at Stonehenge.
Happy with this Utopian vision of the driverless future?A Highways Agency report suggests that cars of the future could report road potholes automatically, with fleets of auto autos being instructed to swerve around them without human intervention.The Strategic Road Network Initial Report suggested these vehicles could be used to automatically report defects in roads back to maintenance contractors – as well as warning other connected vehicles to avoid the damaging carriageway flaws.“Connected vehicles could report potholes, uploading data on the location and severity of the pothole, which is then shared with the local maintainers and even other connected vehicles, to help them avoid it,” said the report.In addition, drones could be used to help spot traffic problems from the air and help relay information back to the Highways Agency’s control rooms, the report’s authors stated.“We are currently trialling drones to inspect structures, but such technology could also be used to improve response times, for example for a first assessment of incidents or for traffic monitoring,” said the report.
Highways England wants to do something about all the congestion on the motorways, so it's doing the most sensible thing possible.No, not improving public transport or building more motorways, it's introducing traffic lights for the first time ever.Barring the lights on sliproads, however, because they've been around for ages to counter the fact at least half of the driving population don't know how sliproads actually work.This is a £7 million trial that's set to take place at the Croft interchange, where junction 21A of the M6 meets junction 10 of the M62 near Warrington.That's going east towards Manchester if anyone cares.It rolls out next month, with the traffic lights operating during peak hours - that's alongside reduced speed limits.
Highways England wants to do something about all the congestion on the motorways, so it's doing the most sensible thing possible.No, not improving public transport or building more motorways, it's introducing traffic lights for the first time ever.Barring the lights on sliproads, however, because they've been around for ages to counter the fact at least half of the driving population don't know how sliproads actually work.This is a £7 million trial that's set to take place at the Croft interchange, where junction 21A of the M6 meets junction 10 of the M62 near Warrington.That's going east towards Manchester if anyone cares.It rolls out next month, with the traffic lights operating during peak hours - that's alongside reduced speed limits.
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