Staying ahead of the curve, Blakedale Limited has manufactured and launched a cost effective solution that will play a vital role in keeping motorists and maintenance crews safe on the UK’s growing network of Smart and Managed Motorways.
The highly visible Advanced Warning Maintenance Indicator (AWMI) post has been designed specifically to alert drivers, highway maintenance and winter gritting crews to the exact location of Emergency Refuge Areas that are part of the new Smart Motorway layout.
The latest Smart Motorway, which opened in April, is a 20-mile stretch of the M1 between Junction 28, Mansfield and Junction 31, Worksop is the first to utilise Blakedale’s new AWMI post. Engineering solutions provider, Costain, was appointed by Highways England to deliver this Smart Motorway scheme running through Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, in a project worth over £200 million.
Like all Smart Motorways, the hard shoulder has been converted into a permanent extra lane and Emergency Refuge Areas (ERA), numbering to 20 in total, have been created between junctions. Drivers will now head to the nearest ERA, or safe location (junctions, service areas) should they need to raise the emergency or recovery services for any reason.
Mal Bell, Project Manager at Costain, says: “Converting the hard shoulder into an extra lane has significantly increased the motorway’s capacity whilst the use of variable speed limits helps to keep traffic moving at busy times. Clear signals were needed to guide motorists and maintenance crews safely through the new layout and Blakedale’s AWMI posts are a crucial part of this.
“From the outset, Blakedale have been extremely collaborative and proactive in their approach, ensuring works were completed to programme.”
The AWMI posts utilise the same basic shape and recognisable design of existing Motorway Type 1, Type 6A and Type 8B Distance Marker Posts and are installed in the same convenient manner. However, they are distinguished by their high visibility yellow or amber bandings that enable the posts to be seen day or night and in all weather conditions.
Blakedale’s AWMI is also easily identified by a unique 100mm diameter black and white, retroreflective quadrant at the top of the post. Designed to be clearly visible in the beam of an approaching driver’s headlamps, these make the posts even more conspicuous at night and in poor weather conditions.
Carmen Bowley, Joint Managing Director of Blakedale, comments: “We are delighted to be involved so early in the introduction of Smart Motorways in the UK. Our new AWMI post is already proving popular as a fit for purpose and cost effective solution for protecting stationary vehicles using the new Emergency Refuge Areas, and for giving advanced warning to approaching drivers, maintenance and winter gritting crews.”
“Costain was the first company to approach Blakedale to ask if we could make such a product. Since then, we have been approached by a number of other contractors working on similar schemes. We look forward to seeing our new AWMI posts become a familiar feature around the country as more new Smart Motorways come to fruition,” adds Carmen.
Further technologies that have been installed to maximise safety on the new Derbyshire – South Yorkshire Smart Motorway include 17 overhead gantries with 66 electronic driver information signs and 74 electronic lane controls. There are also 100 CCTV cameras with infrared capability, which enable control centres to respond quickly any incidents.
Blakedale is one of the UK’s most respected manufacturers and suppliers of distance marker posts and hazard delineators. The Lancashire-based business also specialises in the hire and sale of Traffic Management and Support Vehicles for highway maintenance, including state-of-the-art Impact Protection Vehicles (IPVs) also known as Crash Cushions.
Image one © Costain.