Highways England has installed the first of a new generation of digital road signs on a stretch of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.
Described as variable message signs, they have been developed in a collaboration between infrastructure company Costain, which is delivering the roadside controller, and Swarco, the manufacturer of the signs.
It is the first step in a deployment programme for the signs set to run into next year and cover the M20, M23 and M1 as part of Highways England’s Smart Motorways programme.
Costain and Swarco said the new signs use high resolution colour optical technology components that provide for clearer messages and graphics to be displayed in all weather conditions. They can also display live video pictures of congestion on the road ahead.
In addition, fewer materials and less cabling than usual have been used, which should minimise maintenance requirements.
The Smart Motorways programme is an element of Highways England’s business plan aimed at increasing road capacity more quickly and at a lower cost than road widening schemes. It involves the use of new technology to monitor traffic levels, regulate speed limits to smooth traffic flows, activate warning sign of congestion and hazards ahead, and close lanes when necessary.
It was first applied to the M42 in 2006. Highways England has said it has improved journey reliability by 22% and personally injury accidents by more than half. When the latter has occurred they have been less severe.