A ‘pioneering’ project designed to help councils adopt a ‘smarter’ approach to highway repairs by identifying potential potholes, is to be extended and expanded.
Launched in February, the DfT funded ‘pothole-spotter’ trial has seen high-definition cameras, integrated navigation system and intelligent software installed on refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) in Thurrock.
Data from the trial is already being used to help inform the council’s road maintenance and repair strategy.
As a result of the initial success in Thurrock, the trial is now being rolled out in York and Wiltshire, with an expanding portfolio of vehicles and approaches to data capture.
Soenecs and Gaist, the two private-sector organisations leading the scheme, say the addition of buses and bikes will help capture a ‘rich and varied’ data set.
Dr David Greenfield, of Soenecs, said: “The new vehicles and routes will enable us to gather significantly more data to assist in preventing potholes, whilst exploring road safety issues for more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists.”
The new pilot areas were selected for their unique characteristics. York has one of the highest number of cycle journeys in the country, in addition to high traffic volumes, particularly in the peak summer tourist season.
In Wiltshire, the data collected will be illustrative of a typical rural area with large volumes of heavy agricultural traffic.
Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and waste, at Wiltshire Council, said: “As we continue to invest over £20m a year in highways to get rid of a historic backlog of maintenance, we look ahead to find new ways of avoiding potholes and other defects on our roads.
“We have a good track record of innovation in Wiltshire, and I’m delighted we can help with this trial. I look forward to sharing how it worked with colleagues in other local authorities.”
All the vehicles deployed for the project will frequently survey the same stretch of road to create a detailed data bank illustrating the development of road problems over a much shorter time frame than has previously been possible.