February's top stories: US’s $94.7bn transport budget, UK trials driverless cars

The US Government announces a $94.7bn budget for the department of transportation in 2016, the UK Government has launched driverless car trial in four cities while Ford European and RWTH Aachen University launched a new project to solve future global transportation challenges. Roadtraffic-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from February 2015.


Connex

US announces $94.7bn 2016 budget for US Department of Transportation

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced President Barack Obama's $94.7bn Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget for the US Department of Transportation.

Secretary Foxx said: "Our budget proposal lays the foundation for a future where our transportation infrastructure meets the demands of a growing population and an economy that depends on the free flow of freight.

"This administration is looking towards the horizon - the future - but to do this, we need Congress' partnership to pass a long-term reauthorisation to put Americans to work rebuilding America."

The president's latest budget said to provide additional certainty with a six-year $478bn surface transportation reauthorisation proposal that would improve highways, ports and transit networks in the US.

Planning application accepted for UK's £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement project

The UK Government accepted the planning application for the £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon road improvement scheme, which involves the improvement and upgrading of the 23-mile stretch of the highway.

The government's planning inspectorate accepted and examine plans for the new bypass, widening the existing A1 and A14, improvements to Huntingdon Town Centre and new local access roads in Cambridgeshire.

The Highways Agency received more than 1,400 responses, including 1,152 completed questionnaires, during a formal consultation on the scheme in 2014 as a result of which several design changes were made to the proposal.

UK launches the prototype of driverless cars to be trialed at four UK cities

Driverless vehicle

The UK Government said that it is uniquely placed to lead the development of driverless cars following the launch of prototype driverless cars that will be trialed at four UK cities.

Business secretary Vince Cable said that the trials, which have received a £19m investment from the government, would help the country keep itself at the cutting edge of automotive technology and could bring more highly skilled jobs to the UK.

Cable said: "It's important for jobs, growth and society that we keep at the forefront of innovation, that's why I launched a competition to research and develop driverless cars."

Ford launches mobility innovation project to solve global transportation challenges

The Ford European Research & Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, and the Technology and Innovation Management Institute of RWTH Aachen University launched a new project in an attempt to solve future global transportation challenges.

The Personal Mobility Experience Innovation project, which helps Ford to address societal challenges such as traffic congestion as well as environmental issues, brought in experts from both the parties to study business models from various industries and the transformations made by other innovators.

Ford Research & Advanced Engineering executive technical leader Pim van der Jagt said: "This project is about tapping into the best thinking from other industries and sectors to deliver new mobility solutions."

Jenoptik to test speed control technology on German roads

Jenoptik

Jenoptik is to start installation and testing of its speed control technology from March in Lower Saxony, Germany, as part of a project to monitor speed control on highways.

The traffic solutions division of Jenoptik won the tender for the Germany-wide section of the 18-month speed control pilot project, under which an average speed control system will be initially tested in Lower Saxony.

For the project, the company will supply a system from its TraffiSection product range to monitor the speed limit on a 3km-long section on Federal Highway 6 south of Hanover.

TxDOT fines Xerox over TxTag issues

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in the US levied a fine of $177,000 on Xerox, which was awarded a contract to operate toll roads throughout the state.

In September 2013, TxDOT selected Xerox to provide customer service and toll operations to the state of Texas over the next five years in a $100m contract.

The contract includes handling customer service and the TxTag website, but since Xerox took over last year, the customers have complained about various billing problems, issues with the website and long wait times when trying to connect on the phone, according to kxan.

Dubai's RTA connects traffic signals with traffic control centre with 3G technology

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) completed connecting all of the traffic signals in the Emirate with the traffic control centre.

The authority was in the process of completing the project of shifting the control of traffic signals from the existing hired telephone lines to the 3G technology, which will enable remote control of signals through RTA traffic control centre.

The project is aimed at enabling better management of traffic congestion at junctions, according to the changing traffic patterns.

CPPIB to invest $409m in NorthConnex road tunnel project in Sydney, Australia

NorthConnex

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) announced plans to invest A$525m ($409m) NorthConnex road tunnel project, which is being built to improve traffic in north of Sydney, Australia.

With the investment, CPPIB will take 25% ownership interest in the project.

A consortium consisting of CPPIB, Transurban Group and Queensland Investment (QIC) are set to build and operate the new A$2.9bn ($2.2bn) NorthConnex tolled tunnel motorway located north-west of Sydney.

European Commission to propose new traffic rules

The European Commission proposed to formulate new rules for traffic fines, under which UK motorists would be penalised if caught speeding abroad.

Expected to be supported by the vast majority of Members of European Parliament (MEPs), the new rules will also see the motorists stripped of their licences and cover penalties for ignoring red lights, drink and drug driving as well as driving while using a mobile phone.

Set to come into force in 2017 in the UK, the new measures are expected to receive the support of European Parliament, following which police forces can issue fines across Europe.

Siemens selected for M27 traffic system in UK

M27

Civil contractors Interserve Construction and Jackson Civil Engineering selected UK engineering company Siemens for the supply and installation of traffic signals and controllers for two junction improvements schemes.

The latest orders, which will help alleviate the flow of traffic on M27 motorway in Hampshire at Junction 3 near Southampton and Junction 5 near Southampton Airport and Eastleigh.

The UK Government granted £317m for the ongoing upgrade work on motorways and major trunk roads, which is slated for delivery by mid-2015.