SWARCO has installed a state-of-the-art temporary hard shoulder clearance system on the A8 motorway in southwest Germany on behalf of Autobahn GmbH. The aim of the project is to improve traffic flow and increase road safety. Funding for the project was provided by the European Union as part of the “Ursa Major Neo” programme.
The system spans 2.8 kilometres in the motorway area between Karlsruhe and Karlsbad. It consists of four display cross-sections with LED variable message signs (VMS), eight pole installations for VMS or camera technology as well as 12 route stations. In addition to the outdoor equipment, SWARCO also provides the appropriate central control software. Clearance of the hard shoulder from obstacles is checked by Stuttgart’s traffic control centre with the help of dynamic video cameras.
The release of the hard shoulder depends on the traffic situation and is displayed to road users on digital signs. The new system offers a climate- and resource-friendly possibility to use the already existing traffic infrastructure more effectively without a long-lasting expansion – the capacity of the infrastructure in the motorway section is increased by up to 30 per cent by the new system. At the same time, traffic safety is increased, and traffic flow is improved.
On 8 December 2022, the new facility was opened to traffic by Michael Theurer, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, Stephan Krenz, Chairman of the Management Board of Autobahn GmbH, and Christine Baur-Fewson, Director of the Southwest Branch of Autobahn GmbH.
The A8 motorway is an important central east-west link in the European transport network. The section between Karlsruhe motorway interchange and Karlsbad junction is highly congested with about 110,000 vehicles per day, features a winding route and gradients of approx. 7.5%. The traffic flow is often blocked in this section due to slow-moving trucks, and there are frequently overtaking manoeuvres and lane changes taking place.