Category Archives: Road/Traffic

Could Google’s latest driverless vehicle transform our obsession with car ownership?

Google has last week unveiled the latest incarnation of the driverless cars it has been developing for the past four years. Unlike earlier versions, pedals and steering wheels have been eliminated altogether in the new pod-like prototype cars, so the driver is no longer able to take control manually (apparently a good thing as we tend to make bad decisions in emergency situations, according to Google’s test experiences).

The vehicles – which will run on electricity – are simply equipped with a button for ‘start’ and a panic button for ‘stop’. Sensors with 360-degree vision and advanced robotic engineering do the rest, theoretically far more reliably and safely than humans.

And rather than having to own a car, people would simply summon a driverless car-cum-taxi via a mobile phone app. All extraordinary stuff: bad news for parking wardens, very good news for hospital emergency departments and the environment. It also promises greater economy.

Artistic sketch of what Google's vehicle prototype will look like

Artistic sketch of what Google’s vehicle prototype will look like

The New York Times cites some interesting research showing that “Manhattan’s 13,000 taxis made 470,000 trips a day. Their average speed was 10 to 11 mph, carrying an average of 1.4 passengers per trip with an average wait time of five minutes.

“In comparison, the report said, it is possible for a futuristic robot fleet of 9,000 shared automated vehicles hailed by smartphone to match that capacity with a wait time of less than one minute.

“Assuming a 15 per cent profit, the current cost of a taxi service would be about $4 per trip mile, while in contrast, it was estimated, a Manhattan-based driverless vehicle fleet would cost about 50 cents per mile.”

The UK’s national Sunday newspaper, The Observer, also makes some important points, stating, “Google is, par excellence…an engineering company. And engineers dislike the untidy irrationality of real life.”

The article describes the status quo of one car per owner, the expense, the space required – not to mention the danger to life and the environment – saying that “engineers see governments and local authorities driven to distraction, if not to bankruptcy, by the costs of providing roads and infrastructure to support our motoring habit…and they think: this is nuts. So, say Google’s engineers, why don’t we stop thinking of cars as possessions and start thinking of them as services?”

Written By admin 
June 05, 2014 11:32 am
Posted In Road/Traffic

Flying Under the Hammersmith Flyover

King Street Looking West (Artists Impression by

King Street Looking West (Artists Impression by West London Link)

Hammersmith Flyover in West London is one of the first examples of an elevated road using reinforced concrete. Designed by G Maunsell & Partners & built in 1960, it has carried the A4 into Central London through Hammersmith as well as dividing local opinion and acting as a physical barrier ever since.

However, there are plans to turn the 6 lane flyover into a ‘flyunder’, comprising a range of tunnel options from shallow cut and cover to deep bore. It potentially makes a 2.5 mile strip of land ripe for development and already carries the endorsement of the Mayor of London, describing the scheme as “brilliant”.

The first official artist’s impressions of how Hammersmith town centre could look if a ‘flyunder’ burrows beneath it have been released showing land formerly blighted by the trunk road replaced by new homes, offices and green space. A report, drawn up by West London Link – a consortium of local designers in association with Channel Tunnel engineers Halcrow — was commissioned by Hammersmith & Fulham Council amid growing concern about the lifespan of the current route, which is used by 90,000 vehicles a day.

Transport for London is ultimately responsible as the A4 is a strategic route in the capital. It is spending £60 million fixing the 620-metre concrete structure after corrosion was identified and claim the work will keep the flyover in use for decades. The shortest “flyunder” option would run under the current route of the flyover and would cost £218 million. The longest 2.5-mile route would run from west of the Hogarth roundabout to Earl’s Court Road and would be the longest road tunnel in London. The third possibility is a 2.2-mile tunnel ending in West Kensington. Both longer, deep bore versions would also require a junction halfway along, near Hammersmith Broadway, to allow local traffic to use the tunnel.

Around £1billion worth of former highway land could be freed up to help pay for the flyunder works, according to a feasibility study.

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader, said: “A flyunder would enable Hammersmith Berlin Wall to be torn down and reconnect our divided town centre with the river and make our once beautiful town centre an even more attractive place to live in, visit or do business.”

Jim Davis

10 selected for Colombian road projects


On February 6, Colombia’s National Infrastructure Agency (ANI) announced the 10 prequalified for the road project that will connect with Highway concession Medellín Sea 2 starting in the town of San Cristobal in the tunnel of the West, to Santa Fe de Antioquia, and connecting Santafe Bolombolo of Antioquia.

The project will have an investment of 1.50 billion pesos, 19 tunnels and 41 bridges will be built and will involve a total of 176 kilometers distributed in the following functional units:

  • Construction of second carriageway tunnel between West and San Jeronimo.
  • Construction of second carriageway between San Jeronimo and Santa Fe de Antioquia (including the stretch between Santa Fe de Antioquia and Cañasgordas).
  • Duplication in the tunnel of the West.
  • Improvement to the road between Santa Fe de Antioquia and Bolombolo.

It is estimated that the project will create 4,200 jobs in the construction phase.


The following is a list of prequalified companies for this project:


ODINSA GROUP SA 30% Colombia

Mincivil SA 25% Colombia


TERMOTECNICA Coindustrial SA 7.50% Colombia

SAS ICEIN 7.50% Colombia

MOTA ENGIL Engineering & Construction COLOMBIA SA BRANCH 10%    Portugal Suc. Colombia

2 VINCC Urabá 1



3 SAC 4G





ACCIONA Concessions CHILE LTDA 50% Chile

5 PLURAL STRUCTURE Shikun & Binui – Grodco

Shikun & Binui VT AG 50% Switzerland

CI Grodco S. CIVIL ENGINEERS IN CA 50% Colombia









SAS CONCESIA 24% Colombia



OHL Concessions COLOMBIA SAS 60% Colombia

OHL Concessions CHILE SA 40% Chile




Abu Dhabi Freight Master Plan Sets its Strategy for Safe, Fair and Efficient Freight Transport Sector


The Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi (DoT) begins with: “Better truck maintenance”, “Check your truck”, and “Stop Sleepy Drivers” as part of the Freight Master Plan (FMP) recommendations.

The Department of Transport (DoT) in Abu Dhabi announced on Monday, its Multi-modal Freight Master Plan (FMP), an integrated framework that seeks to create safe and fair regulations supporting the economic efficiency of freight sector, whilst improving standards of truck operations. The FMP sets the DOT’s strategy of ensuring that the freight transport sector is safe, fair and efficient.

Developed in close coordination and cooperation with many government and private sector stakeholders who are directly involved in planning and providing freight transportation services in the Emirate, nationwide and beyond, the Freight Master Plan is geared towards improving safe standards for freight operations by organising its recommendations around nine themes:

  • Freight governance
  • Multi-modal policy
  • Freight planning guidance
  • Road infrastructure
  • Road freight traffic management
  • Road freight industry management
  • Rail freight
  • Sea freight
  • Air freight

The Freight Master Plan launch event, which took place on February 3-4, 2014, priortised safety as the key pillar by focusing on three well-integrated areas that help create awareness amongst key stakeholders through various tools and initiatives such as awareness documents, supporting tools, promotional campaigns and initiatives as well as direct meetings and workshops.

The first area focuses on “Better Truck Maintenance“, providing guidance to vehicle operators on how to implement an effective system for truck safety inspections and maintenance management whilst setting out requirements for daily vehicle checks with regular inspections and maintenance procedures.

The second area, ‘Check Your Truck’, provides further instruction to drivers and those responsible for pre-shift walk around truck safety inspections, detailing items to be checked and with an action roadmap if a defect is found. The guide is supported by a comprehensive checklist sheet that pays great attention to the management of truck driving hours as a very persistent issue.

The third area, ‘Stop Sleepy Drivers’, highlights the severe risks of truck driver fatigue and provides guidance to managers and company owners on how to set up an implement an effective plan to overcome this problem. It highlights some important solutions such as appropriate pre-trip or forward planning to minimise fatigue, keeping details of regular and irregular truck trips for their managers and inspectors in a well-maintained and easily accessible documentation. Besides, drivers should not be required to drive unreasonable distances in insufficient time and without sufficient notice and provision for adequate rest.

Mr. Mohammed Nasser Al Otaiba, Director of Freight Division, DoT, said: “As the issue of safety for all roads users is not one of compromise, truck incidents have negative consequences on both the life of people and the economy. The Freight Master Plan is gearing towards ensuring trucks are a safe means of goods transportation through its meticulous voluntary and obligatory guidance and regulations.”

“The DoT is committed to working closely with all stakeholders in this Plan, especially truck operators and regulators to ascertain that trucks are well maintained and regularly checked by professionals and do not pose a threat on the road and that drivers do not feel exhausted while behind the wheel. By committing to the guidance and regulations, operators and drivers can be very positive partners in road safety avoiding the costly penalties of non-compliance.” he added.

Super-crane on 6,000-mile voyage to build colossal new bridge for New York

One of the largest floating cranes in the world, the Left Coast Lifter, now dubbed the “I Lift NY”, has been making an epic sea-passage from California to New York. Once there, it will be used to construct a super-size new bridge that will replace the deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge that currently crosses the mighty Hudson River.

Pulled by tugboats, the super-crane left the Port of Oakland on 22 December 2013, and has just passed through the Panama Canal to continue its sea voyage up the east coast of the USA to New York. It is expected to complete its 6,000-mile journey as early as the end of January 2014.

I Lift NY

Formerly used to build the San-Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, the “I Lift NY” has a boom length of 328 ft and a 1,900-ton lift capacity. This is said by New York State’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo to be the equivalent of 12 Statues of Liberty in weight at once. He claims this Herculean lifting capacity will shorten construction time on the new bridge by months and save millions of dollars.

Once “I Lift NY” arrives on site, it will be used to lift prefabricated sections of the new bridge weighing between 900 and 1,100 tons into place. It will also be used to demolish the old bridge.

After frustrating delays and indecision about whether to build a new bridge or repair the existing 1955-built one, in 2011 the Tappan Zee Constructors consortium finally secured the $3.9bn design-build contract for the new cable-stay bridge.

The eight-lane bridge, designed over two parallel spans, will span the 3.1-mile stretch of river between Westchester County and Rockland County. According to the New York Times, 1,000 steel piles of up to 6ft in diameter and 300ft long will support the new bridge.


The article explains: “To make sure the piles can hold the weight of the daily traffic – 138,000 cars – workers delicately set a barge on top of the piles, fill it with water until it weighs 7mn pounds, adjust that force with hydraulic jacks, then test the piles for several days to see if any shifting takes place.”

By the time the bridge is finished in 2018, 400 engineers will have contributed to it, and construction workers will have put in 6mn hours of labour. It is designed to last for at least 100 years.

Gail Taylor


See this link for a list of companies behind the project that form the Tappan Zee Constructors.


Resumption of work on two large Greek motorway projects

A total investment of €3.1 billion
More than 10,000 jobs generated
Set to open to traffic by the end of 2015

Following three years of intensive work with the Greek government and its financial partners, VINCI announces the resumption of construction work on the 365 km motorway between Athens and Tsakona and the 240 km motorway section between Maliakos Bay and Kleidi.

The two concession projects underwent in-depth restructuring that made it possible to complete their refinancing in December 2013 and to resume construction work at the beginning of 2014. The two projects account for a total investment of €3.1 billion (Athens-Tsakona: €1.8 billion, Maliakos-Kleidi: €1.3 billion).

VINCI Concessions is a 30% shareholder in the Olympia Odos company, which holds the concession for the Athens-Tsakona motorway, and a 15% shareholder in the Aegean Motorway company, which holds the concession for the Maliakos-Kleidi motorway.

The resumption of these projects, which are crucial to Greek infrastructure competitiveness, illustrates the long-term strength of the public-private partnership model, notwithstanding cyclical fluctuations. In addition, the projects boost local economic development. The resumption of work with a view to opening the motorways to traffic by the end of 2015 will account for about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs during peak construction. Motorway operation will consolidate about 1,000 jobs.

Disaster-resilient infrastructure for Bohol

bohol footbridge

Disaster-resilient housing solutions for the earthquake-struck Philippines province of Bohol have been submitted by the NGOs Habitat for Humanity and Gawad Kalinga. The quake, which registered 7.2 on the Richter Scale, destroyed Bohol’s bridges, schools, roads and churches.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development assistant Central Visayas director, Nemia Antipala, met with Governor Edgar Chatto to discuss disaster-resilient proposals: “Their design would be best suited for that eventuality. It has been predicted that every year, there will be stronger and stronger typhoons. So that is something we have to plan for,” she told the press in December.

Bohol suffered damages to the tune of P7.862b in the storm, with 8,083 houses lost and 34,527 damaged. 64 evacuation centres have been installed, with tents for over 40,000 displaced families supplied by various agencies. NGO headquarters also served as makeshift shelters. Bohol must be equipped with houses to endure winds of up to 220km/h, as part of Chatto’s proposed four-year rehabilitation and recovery plan for the province.

President Aquino inaugurated Abatan’s temporary steel bridge during his visit, which connects the towns of Maribojoc and Cortes. Two new bridges, Disamparados Bridge along the Tagbilaran north road and Tultogan Bridge in Calape town, will be built as part of a road and bridge construction scheme that will cost around P138 million.

Image shows a temporary bamboo footbridge making it possible for people to cross Abatan Bridge in Maribojoc town, Bohol province.

$335m Iraq Transport Corridors Project approved

Iraq Transport Corridors Project

Traffic fatalities in Iraq are predicted to reduce by as much as 25% following a scheme that will see the country enjoy improved links with its Northern, Southern and Western neighbours.

Approved by the World Bank Board of Directors last month, the $355m Iraq Transport Corridors Project will bring about a dramatic increase in road quality, while promoting citizen engagement, regional trade integration and national unity. A partnership between the Islamic Development Bank, which will contribute $217m, and the Government of Iraq, which will contribute $484m, will implement the project.

Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank’s Mashreq Department Country Director, announced: “The project, which covers the main national route, will facilitate trade movement between Iraqi governorates and neighbouring countries. This will boost economic growth and lead to better service quality along the international corridors which carry most of the tradable goods.”

He continued: “Iraq has one of the highest levels of road accident fatalities in the world, and the rehabilitation of the expressway will improve road safety and travel time. Commuters and residents will also be able to report on the condition of the roads using mobile phones and GPS technologies.”

Iraq’s 48,000km road network has suffered from poor maintenance following decades of war and a depletion of human resources. 6,000 road fatalities were reported in 2010 alone, an alarming testament to the network’s state of disrepair. More worrying still, the World Health Organization puts its estimations close to 12,000 for that year.

The Iraq Transport Corridors Project will see increased national institution capacity, equipping Iraqi staff to manage and local infrastructure systems. In particular, a Citizens’ Roadway Reporting System will allow neighbouring communities to exchange feedback on road quality and the condition of service areas. Fibre optic cable ducts will enable strengthened broadband access, and the reporting of reckless driving, speeding, pollution, traffic accidents, required repairs, and so forth.

These real-time information updates will improve response efficiency to road works, delays and other condition changes, and increase the effectiveness of road management communication and surveillance systems, including axle-load limit enforcement and traffic safety monitoring.

A much improved system of rest-stops will bring safety to small roadside businesses, and new service area restaurants and lavatories will greatly improve conditions for Iraq’s 150,000 citizens with limited mobility. World Bank Team Leader Ibrahim Dajani said: “This project is a result of close collaboration between the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Iraqi road agencies and the World Bank team. It focuses on enhancing the capacity of the institutions to manage and maintain the road networks through technical assistance.”

You can find a video from the World Bank on the project below:

Richard Greenan

Smarter Mobility: an evening of debate hosted by Intelligence Squared

Smarter Mobility_Web Res-191

This debate, held at The Royal Institute of Great Britain and supported by Shell, aimed address the question of delivering smarter mobility options in ever-increasingly congested megacities, such as Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Leading the line were five of the field’s most innovative thinkers, brought together in an effort to sketch out the future of smart mobility, and was chaired by Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).


Professor Paul Newman
A Professor of Engineering and leader of the Mobile Robotics Group at the University of Oxford, Professor Newman is an expert in driverless vehicle technology. He argued that, while the growth of driverless technology was inevitable, it will not occur overnight. Rather, the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will be a gradual progression. Key to this, Professor Newman stated, was the ability of vehicles to interpret their surroundings and learn without the help of external inputs such as GPS.

Robin Chase
Founder and CEO of Buzzcar, as well as co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Robin is a pioneer in the car-sharing marketplace. Focusing on the potential benefits of a city fully embracing car-sharing schemes, Robin observed that the development of car-sharing schemes would reduce the number of vehicles on the road, highlighting the vast majority of time personally owned cars spend parked and unused. This development also spells the proposition of the most functional, appropriate vehicles being made available to users at opportune times.

Jerry Saunders
Jerry is the CEO of Skytran, a company developing a rapid transit system that utilises maglev technology. Skytran, a NASA Space Act Company, has initially been developing this system for Tel Aviv. Skytran’s transportation pods run along tracks fitted above street level, and can travel at speeds of 100-200 kmph. Skytran will be capable of taking up to 11,500 passengers per hour on each guideline, with each pod using only one third of the energy of a hybrid car. When questioned on the greatest challenge facing this ambitious project, Jerry responded that it was not technological or developmental, but rather obstacles created by governments unable to fully understand and categorise this transportation alternative.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie
Ben is an urban designer and one of the leading proponents of the idea of ‘shared space’, a proposed solution to city congestion that involves the removal of street furniture and traffic controls. This low-tech and cheap congestion solution will increase road safety and vehicle flow by increasing user awareness of fellow users sharing the space around them, Ben argued.

David Rowan
The final speaker, David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of WIRED, attempted to tie together the various solutions proposed today. Key to David’s final messsage was the requirement of societies to reduce their fixation on personal ownership and embrace the idea of collective information, resources and ownership in the pursuit of smarter mobility.


The event concluded with a Q&A during which concerns raised by the audience focused on issues such as the transportation of goods, and what driverless cars and car-sharing schemes meant for those holding a passion for vehicles themselves. The first concern was met with a general consensus that there remains a considerable way to go in the development of goods transportation systems, especially within cities themselves. The second issue was handled by Professor Newman, who, reiterating an earlier point, argued that technology exists to provide its users with choices, and that an individual wishing to continue driving their own car will be free to do so.

Alexander Malden

Royal HaskoningDHV Wins Saudi Public Transport Assignment at Dammam

Dammam Khobar Highway Tunnel world infrastructure news

Engineering and project management service provider Royal HaskoningDHV, in joint venture with Mshari Al-Shathri Engineering, has been appointed by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Transport to prepare a feasibility study and preliminary design for Dammam’s first public transportation system. It is hoped the project will alleviate congestion and improve living conditions in the area.

Significant growth over recent years has seen the Dammam and Khobar urban area reach approximately two million people. A reliance on private cars has resulted in daily traffic jams, with complete gridlock predicted for the Dammam urban road network within a few years, if growth continues at this rate.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ohaly, the Undersecretary for Transport Affairs, states: “In order to improve mobility and to alleviate urban congestion, reduce noise and air pollution we realise that we need to encourage people to use public transport.”

The Project manager for Royal HaskoningDHV, Nils den Hartog, said: “Public transport is currently almost non-existent in this car-dominated city where petrol costs no more than 15 cents per litre. A key challenge of this project will be the successful introduction of such a system.”

The project entails a preliminary design and feasibility study for a 110km bus rapid transit network, 50km of light rail and 350km of feeder buses in the Dammam Metropolitan Area, which includes King Fahd International Airport. A multidisciplinary approach will include infrastructure design, urban integration, public transport planning, operation planning, procurement strategy and business case preparation.

The contract was awarded to a joint venture of Royal HaskoningDHV and local consultants Mshari Al-Shathri. Operating from Royal HaskoningDHV’s Saudi Arabian branch office SADECO, the project team will work closely with both the Municipality of Dammam and the Saudi Ministry of Transport.

Richard Greenan