Highways servicing contractor, Ringway, has successfully delivered a scheme on behalf of Solihull Council to improve travel links in the Solihull area. The ANITA (Airport & NEC Integrated Transport Access) Project was officially opened by the Transport Minister and has been designed to provide effective travel links, reduced journey times and sustainable travel.
Phillip Hammond MP, Transport Minister, officially opened the WSP designed scheme which has rejuvenated the travel links between Birmingham Airport, the NEC and Solihull. Mr. Hammond MP welcomed the new variable bus lane - the centre piece of the ANITA Project – which is the first of its kind in the UK.
The variable bus lane uses the Ringway-installed CCTV and digital signage to adjust the status of the bus lane in order that it not remain empty during peak traffic times. “This pioneering bus lane is just one aspect of the ANITA Project, which has seen Ringway provide a dedicated infrastructure that will greatly improve the travel links in and around Solihull,” said Scott Wardrop, Ringway’s Group Managing Director. “A central theme of the ANITA Project was to ease peoples’ access to public transport, in the local area and beyond, and with Ringway’s ability to deliver each aspect of this demanding project we feel we have done just that.”
An estimated 20,000 workers are believed to rely on public transport in the area – not including the footfall of non-workers to the NEC, airport and train station – and until now the links were widely considered to be inadequate. Ringway began work on the ANITA Project in 2009 and the programme of improvements has seen Ringway oversee and deliver hugely improved infrastructure in the following areas:
• Road widening to accommodate a dedicated bus lane
• New link roads which improve commuter times, supported by an 80m retaining wall
• New bus only link roads improving connections to the airport
• Four new toucan pedestrian crossings and two new traffic controlled junctions
• Construction and upgrading five miles of cycleway facilities
• Installation of nine freetext VMS signs and eight rotating prism VMS signs
• Over 100 traditional road signs
• Construction of the country’s first variable bus lane – controlled by the VMS signs
• Installation of CCTV and video analytical systems that automatically monitor traffic and detect abnormal activity
• Upgraded eight junctions across the borough with bus detection and priority equipment
• Refurbished parts of the multi modal interchange at the international railway station
Ringway drew on the wealth of experience and knowledge its people has in order to provide unique solutions to the challenges of the project. The ground investigation work and detailed carriageway design undertaken by Ringway’s Technical Centre in Warrington allowed the use of some of Ringway’s specialist products, such as the UL-M thin surfacing. These products were able to offer superior performance over more traditional road making materials whilst still meeting the budgetary requirements of the project.
Meanwhile, an epoxy resin bonded surface treatment – applied over traditional bitumen – provided a safe surface for cyclists while retaining the appearance of loose gravel – an important detail on the more remote and rural parts of the site. Ringway took on the role of managing and coordinating the statutory undertakers’ works, incorporated their works into the programme, and avoided any costly delays.
This project highlights the benefit of communication within such a multi-disciplinary team. Delivery involved close collaboration with the key stakeholders in the area including the NEC, Birmingham International Airport and Birmingham International Railway station as well as the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the Highways Agency (HA).
The extent of Ringway’s involvement in the project has delivered major benefits as Derek Mathers, Divisional Manager explains. “Ringway’s early involvement and vertical integration on this project means we have delivered everything from ground investigation and pavement design to surfacing, anti-skid, white-lining, and static and VMS signs. All this helps keep costs down, the works to schedule and control over the quality of the end product.”
Thanks to Ringway’s ingenuity and experience, key design decisions were made which impacted on the success of the project as David Langford, Scheme Manager explains. “Switching to a sheet-pile retaining wall instead of the original gabion basket design meant that over four weeks could be saved, while using combined drainage kerbing instead of deep carrier drains avoided the need for a £400,000 diversion of underground services.”