A network of 27 electronic Variable Message Signs designed, manufactured and installed by SWARCO Traffic have gone live at some of Tyneside’s busiest road locations.
The signs are intended to give motorists key information to help them plan their journey and warn them of weather disruption and other potential hazards.
The company says planning and coordinating all works with each local authority was the major challenge, requiring some of the installations to be made in the dead of night.
Newcastle was the contracting body acting for NECA (North East Combined Authority) but signs were also installed in Sunderland, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Northumberland. Each Authority had to be consulted about the installation works in their area.
SWARCO Traffic says it worked closely throughout the project with the scheme designers to determine the optimum locations for the signs taking into account when drivers require information and maximum visibility.
Brian McFarlane, Project Manager at SWARCO Traffic, says that a particular challenge was the installation of a large sign on the Gateshead approach to the Redheugh Bridge crossing of the Tyne, “We had to take down the existing life-expired sign, modify the gantry superstructure, and then install the new sign during overnight road closures,” he explains.
“Existing structure for the gantry had to be surveyed and new support structure engineered. Works had to be postponed until A1 bypass works had been completed with night closure of the A189 required.”
Critical to the work undertaken across the network was the need to cause minimum disruption, and work around scheduled events. It also required liaising with contractors working on the A1 Western Bypass (and overnight closures). SWARCO was also responsible for managing the associate civil engineering works and the installation of permanent roadside barriers. It will maintain the signs for the next seven years.
The £1 million project has been met from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.