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Suffolk roads to get futuristic makeover

PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 01 February 2019

The money will go towards trialling new technology on Suffolk's roads Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA WIRE

The money will go towards trialling new technology on Suffolk's roads Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA WIRE

Street lamps will be turned into Wi-Fi hubs and road sensors will be trialled as part of a futuristic makeover for Suffolk roads.

New charging ports could pave the way for more electric cars in Suffolk  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNew charging ports could pave the way for more electric cars in Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The multi-million pound Department for Transport funding, which is part of a £22.9million research pot split between six councils, is earmarked for trials on new surface materials and other innovative designs.

In Suffolk, £4.41million will go towards adapting street lamps into Wi-Fi hubs, or ports suitable for charging electric cars.

The council will also have the opportunity to trial ‘road sensors’ to see which work best in various conditions.

While the Department for Transport has not specified what these sensors will be used for, its other trials in Buckinghamshire and Kent will use similar technology to collect data on air quality and road surface temperature, as well as ANPR, CCTV, drainage, gritters and gulleys.

Taking to social media to share the news, Suffolk Highways said that the £4.41million investment would be spent on “future infrastructure for a range of services” including the rollout of 5G, electric charging points, and smart traffic and weather monitoring.

Suffolk County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, Mary Evans, also tweeted: “Very proud to be part of the SCC team which won the award in a Dragons’ Den-style contest.

“The adaptive street light technology will bring all sorts of benefits from helping us to keep vulnerable people safe and being more efficient on gritting and gully cleaning to providing 5G.”

The projects will be delivered by councils including Suffolk, Kent, Staffordshire and Reading, and if successful, could be adopted by other authorities.

Elsewhere in the UK, the schemes will include expanding plastic roads trials in Cumbria and using geothermal energy generated by paths to keep car parks and bus stations in Central Bedfordshire from freezing over.

Commenting on the multi-million pound investment, transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Today’s trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”

In the Budget in November, the chancellor announced an additional £420million for road maintenance for the 2018/2019 financial year.


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