Road maintenance planning
Highway networks connect people and businesses all over the world. Particularly on heavily used routes, timely and planned repair and maintenance are key to minimising delays caused by roadworks. TRL’s iROADS asset management software is used all over the world to manage assets and condition data, improving efficiency and effective service delivery through better management of road and infrastructure networks. In the UK, iROADS has helped save tens of millions of pounds in maintenance costs.
Pavement technologiesImproving the way roads are built and designing them for optimal resilience in particular environments and usage conditions saves money on repairs and maintenance. We’re constantly researching and testing materials and methods to build roads for less and reduce their ongoing maintenance costs.
For example, we conducted a full-scale experiment to determine how to reduce surface cracking of concrete roads. Self-healing tarmac helps maintain consistent pavement quality. We continue to encourage the industry to treat the cause and not the symptoms.
Roadway repairsRoad maintenance increases the lifespan of roads and reduces the number of potholes which is big strain on road authorities and councils. In the UK, potholes don’t just create direct repair costs. They also trigger claims from members of the public for damage to their vehicles. TRL’s innovative approach to cost reduction has developed on-board pothole sensing technologies on purpose-built pavement monitoring vehicles. We’re currently trialling similar technology on private cars, to create a more comprehensive and up to date picture, enabling authorities to proactively repair potholes before they are reported as a danger. Monitoring the general condition of roads using sophisticated data collection equipment on purpose-built vehicles can help control the cost of maintenance, making sure faults are mended before they become more serious and costly problems. In places which are hard to reach, we are using satellite imagery and machine learning tools to interpret the images.
Civil engineering design and planning
Other infrastructure elements play a vital part in keeping roads running smoothly and reducing the cost of delays and maintenance. Bridges are a possible point of failure: keeping them in optimal condition keeps traffic flowing. Following a series of collapsing bridges in the 1970s, we investigated load capacity and mode of failure of components, recommending best practice design principles and safe but cost-effective construction and maintenance techniques.
We’ve developed a landslide predictor tool using terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) that helps authorities predict the most vulnerable routes and prioritise where to install vehicle protection.Collaborating with European partners, we have developed a tool for predicting the impact of climate change, identifying the risks and analysing the cost-benefit of preventative measures.
Logistics firms and their end customers rely on smooth traffic flows to meet delivery schedules and deadlines. Delays due to weight of traffic on busy urban roads and motorways have a knock-on effect on secondary customer businesses and consumers, when goods are out of stock. Scoot and SMART motorways are TRL programmes that help keep traffic moving both in towns and between them.