The Government has announced funding of more than £20m for trials to future proof the UK’s roads.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that £22.9m is to be used to fund tests of a series of technologies. New technologies to be trialled include plastic road surfaces to prevent potholes, kinetic energy gathered from roads to power lighting and harnessing geothermal energy to prevent car parks and bus stations from icing up in winter.
The ‘Live Labs’ will be set up across eight local authorities; Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Staffordshire, Kent, Reading, Suffolk, Solihull and Birmingham, with a view to rolling out successful schemes to other parts of the country.
£1.6m will be spent to extend trials of plastic roads in Cumbria. The process involves using pellets of recycled plastic to an asphalt mix as a binding agent in place of Bitumen. The process is said to create a stronger road that is less susceptible to potholes.
The Transport Secretary said: “Potholes are the number one enemy for road users
and this Government is looking at numerous ways to keep our roads in the best condition.
“Today's trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”
In Buckinghamshire, kinetic energy recovery technology will be used to gather energy from the testing carriageway and relay it to roadside battery units.
Trials in Bedfordshire will see geothermal energy used to heat water pipes laid just below the surface to help de-ice car parks and bus stations in sub-zero conditions.
£4m is to be spent in Staffordshire, examining how to extend the concept of smart motorways to local road networks.