The City of Melbourne in Australia has recently started operating a
managed motorway network at a number of points that experience significant
traffic congestion. Consisting of an array of smart technologies such as
overhead gantries, road sensors, traffic monitoring cameras and
freeway-to-freeway ramp signals, the city’s managed motorway network is
expected to improve traffic flow, reduce incident response times and provide an
enhance traffic management system.
as “the world’s most sophisticated managed motorway network” in a press release
by the Victorian state government, Melbourne’s managed motorway network has already contributed to a
number of successes: freeway-to-freeway ramp signals operating on the exit ramp
from Bolte Bridge heading to Burnley Tunnel has boosted traffic flow by
allowing an additional 500 cars per hour to transit through during peak times;
traffic queue lengths have also been reduced up to 2 kilometres, and
nose-to-tail crashes have fallen by nearly 80%.
According to VicRoads, which oversees the road transport system in
the state of Victoria, “50% of (all trips in Victoria’s roads) will happen on
freeways”, some of which are managed motorways. At present, managed motorway
features are present on the recently upgraded Tullamarine Freeway, Monash
Freeway and M80 Ring Road; additional
features, such as freeway to freeway ramp signals, variable speed signs and
entry ramp signals, will be added to various sections of these 3 locations
between June to August 2018.
“We’re switching on Australia’s largest managed motorway system to give
drivers safer, faster and less stressful journeys,” said Australia’s Minister
for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donellan. “Freeways are just seven percent of
our road network but they carry almost half of all traffic – around 13 million
trips each day – that’s why we’re investing in smart technology that will allow
us to move more people, per lane, per hour.” As evidenced by smoother traffic
flow and reduced congestion, active management of Melbourne’s motorways has
provided improved connectivity between routes and intersections, as well as
optimised their productivity.
The term “managed motorways” has no universal definition. In the
context of Victoria, managed motorways, or “smart motorways”, typically possess
a mix of the following technologies: variable message signs that inform road users
of traffic conditions, lane use management systems, coordinated ramp metering,
traffic surveillance equipment such as CCTV cameras and variable speed limits;
other unique features of Melbourne’s managed motorways include
freeway-to-freeway ramp signals, which hold and then release traffic onto the
city’s freeways at consistent intervals.
Improvements in traffic flow and connectivity as a result of the
operation of Melbourne’s managed motorway network represents a critical success
in VicRoads’s decision to switch from constantly building new road
infrastructure to accommodate peak demand. As early as 2002, VicRoads had
already considered the possibility of a state-wide managed motorway network and
sought to implement it via a unique framework now known as the “Melbourne
to VicRoads’s Managed Motorways Framework report published in March 2017, the “Melbourne
Approach” differs from conventional frameworks in that it focuses equally on 12
different elements that harmonise to produce the overall motorway productivity
outcome. With an emphasis on safety, efficiency and
connectivity, the managed motorway network promises road users “safer, smoother
and more reliable journeys on Melbourne’s busiest freeways”.
As Australia’s fastest-growing city, Melbourne has been grappling
with a myriad of issues stemming from a burgeoning population. Transport
infrastructure has been struggling to accommodate the rapid increase in
commuter demand recently, with
the city’s network of train stations and trains operating above capacity. While the managed motorway network represents a significant step
forward in improving road connectivity and traffic flow, the system does not
directly address the rise in the number of cars on Melbourne’s roads.
"At this stage we're still seeing car
growth in similar numbers," said VicRoads chief executive officer John
Merritt. "All of that growth has been taken up on our freeway system where
we've been both expanding system and technology to make it work better and
absorb this huge growth Melbourne's going through."
Picture Credit: http://www.traffictechnologytoday.com/news.php?NewsID=79296