How a £4.75m project is looking to solve Berkshire’s nightmare traffic
Local authorities are set to join forces to gather data on roads and air quality around the region.
Berkshire’s local authorities are set to join forces for a £4.75million project to identify how to solve the county’s nightmare traffic.
From Slough to Wokingham, road users face endless jams and risk damaging their vehicles and bicycles in potholes.
People walking and living near busy roads are also in danger of damaging their health due to the quality of the air they breath.
Reading Borough Council’s Policy Committee is set to discuss the Live Labs project at its meeting on Monday, June 10.
The project involves every council in Berkshire: Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire.
It will be a two-year trial aiming to gather data on road surfaces, traffic hotspots and air quality.
The authorities will be looking to partner with data providers like O2, as well as using their own traffic systems, GeoTab telematics data and existing traffic sensor data.
It will look at a number of aspects of road use.
One of the most complained about aspects of the roads around the region is potholes.
Road maintenance is deemed to be a “major challenge” for councils as their limited cash pots are just not enough to deal with the state of their roads and so the worst get priority.
And it’s not just burst tyres and damage to cars.
The council’s report says potholes are also a major noise issue, with people kept awake by lorries and vans clattering into the craters at night.
This in turn leads to disturbed sleep and negative impacts on health, wellbeing and productivity.
The project will gather data on the most heavily used routes with the worst surface quality.
It will also look at using locally sourced non-recyclable plastics to reduce the carbon impact of road surfacing and repair work.
The project will also look to construct a real-time view of traffic flow with the aim of improving network management.
Data from the existing measures like ANPR cameras will be combined with new data capture methods.
The councils hope this will create a real time view of network activity, origins and destinations and how incidents affect the network.
The ultimate aim is to manage the network better to improve journey times, reduce pollution and respond “dynamically” to changes in traffic flow caused by roadworks or crashes.
Another aim is to improve air quality around schools and ease traffic flow in hotspot areas.
It will largely focus on major roads like the A4 and A322 which flow through different parts of Berkshire, as well as around schools and employment areas.
It will also look at how to increase the use of electric vehicles and installing more charging points.
The project proposes the creation of a “dynamic public health tool” the councils can use.
O2 and the University of Reading are set to be appointed to build the tool, which will use the data gathered to identify public health risks.
By doing this, the councils will be able to get a picture of where future public health costs will come from.
They hope the data gathered will a new perspective on the causes of public health issues like obesity, respiratory disease, loneliness and frailty.
Councillors in Reading are set to discuss the plan at the meeting, which starts at 6.30pm.