Seeking new ways to improve traffic flow and ease congestion on the motorway network, Highways England is moving forward with the creation of Emergency Turnaround Areas (ETAs). Used in conjunction with removable gates within the central reservation, ETAs enable Highways England to quickly bring traffic management procedures into operation in the event of an accident. Each ETA measures 90m² and extends the total turning area on the carriageway sufficiently to allow HGVs to turn around and transfer through the central reservation to safety and continue on with their journey. This minimises the length of time that the carriageway is required to be closed. The M1 in Leicestershire is particularly vulnerable to congestion because of the unusually long distance between junctions 20 and 21 (approximately nine miles).
As a result of the distance, the scheme required six ETAs, along both carriageways on this section of motorway (three northbound and three southbound).
In developing the ETAs Highways England required a surfacing option that was capable of carrying high-load HGV traffic, offered a permeable free draining surface and would discourage motorists from utilising ETAs as lay-bys. In-situ concrete was quickly ruled out through concerns over future maintainability, and grass concrete blocks would require significant traffic management measures due to the weight of the units.
Optima selected Truckcell heavy duty porous paver as their preferred surfacing material. Truckcell, manufactured entirely from recycled plastic, provides a lightweight solution well within the health and safety manual handling limits. This allowed it to be delivered to the stock holding area and then transferred to site as needed.
Truckcell plastic porous paving units were placed by hand, thus eliminating the need for heavy plant at each works location and also minimising the possibility of disturbing the bedding material. The cells were then infilled with clean topsoil. One of the attractions of Truckcell was its ability to allow vegetation to establish within the ETA. The installation of the Truckcell was completed within four weeks with minimal disruption to traffic, despite losing six days installation time due to bad weather.
The ABG Service
ABG provided a full design support service to the client to facilitate using Truckcell for the surfacing.
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