A section of Australia's Bruce Highway is to receive smart motorways technology as part of a $13 billion upgrade programme over the next 15 years.
The highway is located in the Queensland capital of Brisbane and passes through areas close to the eastern coast.
The technology includes ramp signals, variable speed limit and message signs, vehicle detection systems and CCTV cameras to proactively monitor and respond to changing road conditions such as crashes, wet weather or heavy traffic conditions in real-time.
Such technology has proven controversial in the UK amid real safety concerns. A BBC TV programme revealed that 38 people have been killed on the UK’s smart motorways in the last five years.
Deputy prime minister of Australia Barnaby Joyce says the investment is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to improving the safety and performance of national highways.
“The Australian Government is allocating $84 million towards the installation of smart motorways technology along the Bruce Highway between the Pine River and Caloundra Road,” Joyce adds.
“Thanks to this investment, motorists can expect to see improvements in safety, efficiency and reliability along this section of the highway.”
Queensland transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said completion of detailed design marked a significant milestone.
“This project provides a smart, technology-driven solution to pro-actively manage traffic on our highways,” Mr Bailey said.
“These integrated smart motorways technologies will work together to improve safety, reduce stop-start travel and provide more accurate travel times for motorists.”
State member for Caloundra Jason Hunt says wireless traffic sensors would be installed at priority locations along the 60-kilometre stretch to monitor vehicle travel times, traffic flow and speed.
“During detailed design, we undertook some preliminary activities including minor earthworks and electrical to prepare for installing these sensors,” Hunt continues.
“Once installed, these additional sensors will provide the coverage and resolution necessary to accurately monitor the highway’s performance.
“Across the state the Queensland Government is delivering a $27.5bn roads and transport plan over the next four years which is creating 24,000 jobs and driving Queensland economic recovery from Covid-19.”
The project will also link to several other Bruce Highway projects, which incorporate smart motorways technology. These include the $163m Deception Bay Road Interchange upgrade, the $662.5m six-lane project between Caboolture-Bribie Island Road and Steve Irwin Way (Exit 163), and the $932m upgrade between Caloundra Road and the Sunshine Motorway.
Major works are expected to begin early next year, weather and construction conditions permitting.