WSP completes pioneering Major Road Network study on A45

WSP has completed a major study for Northamptonshire County Council that has the potential to provide the transport infrastructure necessary to enable 35,000 new jobs in the area over the next 15 years and to release over 44,000 much needed new homes. 

The study recommends the implementation of a pilot scheme that would improve transport capacity and journey times on the A45 in order to support this potential growth. Engineers at WSP have proposed technology enhancements to the A45 without undertaking any major civil engineering works. 

This will be achieved through new systems in the form of CCTV coverage, queue protection, and variable message signs. A particular innovation would be the use of variable advisory speed limits. Alongside the technology, collaborative working between Highways England, Northamptonshire County Council, and the Northamptonshire police would be trialled at a strategic, tactical and operation level. 

The A45 provides an ideal testing ground for this scheme, which is based on the Major Road Network concept, as it would alleviate congestion in the short term on this strategic road that supports the Oxford, Milton Keynes, and Cambridge corridor.

Other benefits anticipated from the A45 pilot include: 

  • A safer and more reliable journey for users.
  • A collaborative approach to planning, funding and managing the network which meets the strategic objectives of national and local highway authorities.
  • A wider range of funding options by linking up investment from national, regional and local bodies with development funding.
  • A more resilient network, reducing the level of disruption caused by incidents, roadworks and major events.
  • Better provision of travel information, allowing users to make more informed decisions about their journeys.

The lessons learnt from the project will be used to implement the Major Road Network across Northamptonshire and England’s Economic Heartland region.

Mark Fell, ITS regional lead for the south east and London at WSP, said: “This approach is truly pioneering as it’s been designed to be relatively low cost as it wouldn’t require significant civil engineering works. With WSP’s intelligent transport services expertise, the Major Road Network concept will become a key element of local highway authority and regional transport partnership transport strategies. It’s fantastic to have been a part of this project and we look forward to its implementation.”

Ian Achurch at Northamptonshire County Council, said: “This report has a lot of synergy with the findings and conclusions of the National Infrastructure Commission in its work on the Cambridge to Oxford growth area. In particular, the need to enhance infrastructure and east-west connectivity in the wider economic area to support growth and innovation and unlock housing. The A45 around Northampton is a known congestion hotspot that causes frustration to residents and businesses alike. 

“We now have a clear road map for implementing the Major Road Network as a pilot in Northamptonshire using a collaborative and technological approach that offers an excellent return on investment. We look forward to discussing the conclusions of the report with Highways England and government with a view to piloting this approach as soon as possible.”

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