2014: The year's biggest Road Traffic Technology stories

The UK Government announced plans to invest £15bn as part of the new 'Road Investment Strategy', as well as £6bn of funding to help tackle potholes and improve local roads between 2015 and 2021 while the New Zealand Government unveiled plans to invest $30bn on its land transport system over the next ten years. Roadtraffic-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2014.


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UK Government announces £15bn road investment plan

UK Road

The UK Government announced a new £15bn investment plan to triple levels of spending benefiting the east of England as part of the new 'Road Investment Strategy'.

The plan, announced by the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander, is aimed at increasing the capacity and condition of England's roads.

Under the new plan, the east of England will benefit from 15 new schemes and create an estimated 1,000 construction jobs.

Glow-in-the-dark highway opens in Netherlands

The Netherlands started operations of the world's first glow-in-the-dark motorway on the N329 route in the city of Oss.

The concept was initiated by the Smart Highway project and is the brainchild of artist Daan Roosegaarde. Construction company Heijmans also helped to complete the project.

Three photo-luminescent lines on the motorway glow brightly at night, leading to increased safety and visibility. The energy-neutral paint does not need any electricity to power it.

Germany to levy highway tolls on foreign cars

Germany Highway

Germany adopted new plans to introduce highway tolls for foreign cars, compelling the drivers to pay when using roads and highways in the country.

Introduction of the new controversial car toll aims to raise money from foreign drivers travelling on German highways and state-owned roads who will have to pay by registering their licence plates through the internet.

Under the new law, drivers using Germany's highways are required to pay an average toll of €88 ($110) a year starting in 2016 and the proceeds would go toward fixing the country's transport infrastructure. The charges vary, depending on the age, engine size and emissions of a car.

The new bill by Germany will levy charges on foreign drivers, and it currently is one of the few European countries that do not charge car drivers for using its highways.

Victoria planning minister approves eastern section of East West Link

The eastern section of the $8bn East West Link in Australia was approved by Victoria's planning minister Matthew Guy.

Minister Guy said that the East West Link eastern section will deliver a critical transport connection for Victoria.

"The project will significantly improve traffic flows in Melbourne's inner-north and provide an opportunity for enhanced public transport services," Guy said.

The East West Link Project Assessment Committee was set up in October 2013 to assess the project's Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) prepared by the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA) and make recommendations.

UK announces £6bn funding to improve local roads

UK Potholes

The UK Government announced £6bn of funding to help tackle potholes and improve local roads between 2015 and 2021.

The investment amounts to £976m a year, which would be used to fix around 18 million potholes across the country.

UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Roads play a significant part in everyday life. Poorly maintained local roads, blighted by potholes, are a menace to all road users, particularly during the festive period as people travel to see family and friends.

Australia selects East West Connect consortium for first stage of East West Link in Melbourne

The Australian and Victorian Coalition Governments selected the East West Connect consortium to develop the first stage of the East West Link toll road in Melbourne.

The consortium includes Lend Lease, Capella Capital, Spanish firm Acciona and French builder Bouygues.

The East West Link project is an 18km toll motorway that will link the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road and is expected to cost a total of $18bn.

Australia selects contractor for WestConnex project

West Connex

The Australian and New South Wales (NSW) Governments announced the first construction contract for WestConnex, clearing way for major works to start from early 2015.

NSW roads minister Duncan Gay and federal assistant infrastructure minister Jamie Briggs said as part of the first project, Sydney's M4 will be widened.

Briggs said: "We have chosen Rizzani De Eccher Leighton joint venture to design and construct the world-class M4 Widening, which will widen the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush from three lanes to four lanes each way.

"Delivery of the M4 Widening will bring early benefits from WestConnex to Western Sydney."

"This is an important milestone in the delivery of WestConnex and means construction can get under way on the 7.5km project in the New Year, subject to planning approval."

Driverless cars to hit UK roads in January

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable stated that the country will see driverless cars on public roads from January 2015.

The new cars are said to be computer-controlled and will use GPS technology to navigate the streets.

Ministers have plans to look at and review existing road regulations to ensure there is an appropriate way to testing driverless cars and to provide suitable guidelines where necessary.

Cable said: "Today's announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society."

European test drive of 'Communicating Cars' technology complete

Communicating Car

Cooperative ITS Corridor completed the 'Communicating Cars' test drive with leading industry partners and government officials from Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

During the event, a convoy of five Honda smart cars started its drive through 1,300km of roads along the Cooperative ITS Corridor, which included ITS test fields in Munich, Vienna and Helmond.

The cars were fitted with NXP secure communications technology, which helped to improve road safety and traffic flow.


Indonesia began work on $25bn Trans-Sumatra highway project in October

Indonesia began construction on the IDR300tn ($25bn) Trans-Sumatra highway road project in October.

The project is part of the Indonesian Government's master plan for the acceleration and expansion of Indonesian economic development (MP3EI) infrastructure project programme that started in 2011.

The Trans-Sumatra project includes construction of 2,700km of road from Banda Aceh, the capital of Sumatra's westernmost province of Aceh, to Bandar Lampung, the capital of the Sumatra's southernmost province of Lampung.

AkzoNobel develops additive to protect roads from frost damage during winter

Road additive

Dutch paint manufacturer AkzoNobel introduced Ecosel Asphalt Protection, a biodegradable additive for de-icing brine that claims to help prevent roads from frost damage.

The company claimed that the technology was inspired by the animals that can prevent ice forming in their bodies.

The Ecosel Asphalt Protection helps in slowing freezing process of water trapped inside the asphalt used on road construction, preventing repeated freeze-thaw cycles that affect asphalt mixtures.

AkzoNobel's additive brine also helps in making the ice on the roads soft and slushy, preventing the water trapped within the asphalt pores from turning into hard ice, which damages roads during winters.

New Zealand to invest $30bn in land transport system

New Zealand Road

The New Zealand Government unveiled plans to invest NZD$38.7bn ($30bn) in the country's land transport system over the next ten years.

The investment programme is set out in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS 2015), which was released by transport minister Simon Bridges.

Bridges said that the investment will be beneficial for regional networks, public transport, cycleways and road maintenance.