New smart motorway emergency refuge area material could be deployed in ‘near future’

A new material for smart motorway emergency refuge areas could be deployed on the M27 in the “near future”, according to Morgan Sindall Highways managing director Paul Gott.

Gott told the Highways UK conference this week that the product has undergone trials, with the next step being a full installation on site.

“We’re targeting the M27, working closely with Highways England to move to that,” he said.

“That will generate some more testing in terms of breaking tests and how the product reacts over the winter months with de-icing salts.

“Other than that, it is ready to go through final approvals. We’ve got a fantastic solution - it will lower the whole life costing and be safer to install - which we’re hoping to develop and get on the network in the near future.”

With a focus on sustainability and embedding carbon, the material used is a recycled tyre product. Each emergency refuge area is made up of a series of interlocking panels of this material (2m by 1m long). These panels are manufactured offsite and can be installed in five working days.

The modular units mean that, when necessary, maintenance can be done in stages. However, the product's long design life means the need for maintenance teams to work on live networks is reduced.

Morgan Sindall project manager Terri Seel explained: “Because of the long design life there’s no requirement to go out and replace it for 20 years plus so that means you don’t have to be working night shifts and sending someone out onto a live network.

“So from a construction and maintenance point of view this product is safer than the traditional techniques used.”

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