Managed Motorways and Freeways – Parametric Estimating

We are all too familiar with regular and worsening traffic conditions on our roads and highways. The economic, social and environmental costs are enormous. Road Authorities around the world are plagued by traffic volume build-ups, to a point where traffic speed slows or even stops. Authorities in countries like the UK, Netherlands and Australia are increasingly turning to new technology solutions to remedy the situation. This is typically known as Managed Motorways and Freeways.

Current practice includes demand management facilities to limit the number of vehicles entering the managed area. These may be limited according to type so that trucks may enter via a free flow lane whilst domestic vehicles queue. When on the road, vehicles are controlled by a system of electronic signs driven by cameras, sensors and traffic management control. When traffic is heavy, a procedure such as ‘infantry running’ or ‘hard shoulder running’ may be invoked.

This is all well and good, but retrospectively installing complex and extensive electronic technology into thousands of kilometres of existing motorway is not easy. Knowing our capability as a problem solver, the UK's Highways Agency asked for our assistance in evaluating the cost of converting their motorways to a managed system.

We determined that the parametric modelling module within Benchmark Estimating Software was a viable solution. Following three months of product development, we created a tool that was able to calculate, within minutes, reliable strategic and concept estimates using only data from the existing road collected in an Excel form and imported automatically into a Benchmark project.

This tool enabled the UK Highways Agency to confidently assess the viability of converting elements of its motorway network to managed motorways. Once they had decided to proceed with the transformation of the network, we were then asked to produce a second model at the detailed design stage.

These are examples of how parametric models can be produced, resulting in estimates being costed in a matter of minutes at strategic, concept and detailed phases.