Like many of their neighbours, the Josephs grew concerned about the impact of the nearby motorway on their community’s wellbeing and quality of life. Traffic on its way to the motorway often passes by the top of their road. This not only inconveniences daily life – they often face congestion in the mornings and late afternoons times – it also makes them concerned about air quality and how this might affect their children.
The Josephs and their neighbours have voiced their concerns in the past, but it seemed difficult to get their voices heard. Then they were approached by their local ‘strategic road champion’, John . He was working in a new role liaising with communities along the strategic road network to understand their point of view and working with local people on ideas to address the problems they experience. Even just knowing there was now someone they could speak to, who made time for their concerns, reassured the Josephs.
John suggested he organise a ‘tea van’ visit to the community. He brought a mobile exhibition to the community centre and talked to people over a cuppa about their concerns and about the future direction of the strategic road network. The Josephs were particularly interested in what John told them about how increasing numbers of electric vehicles and the prospect of hydrogen-powered heavy goods vehicles would reduce noise and air pollution from the nearby motorway.
For their part, the Josephs appreciated that change wouldn’t happen overnight and they weren’t opposed to the motorway – after all, it was there when they moved in and they found it useful for visiting friends and relatives. However, they were keen to know what could be done to address air quality and congestion in the local road network.
John promised to raise the congestion as an issue with the team of road designers, who could use the digital twin – a system-wide, digital representation of the highways network in context – to try out different options for alleviating the problem. He said he’d also ask designers to look at the possibility of implementing a lower speed limit along the stretch of motorway close to the community. This had been used elsewhere in the country and could help improve air quality.
While John was investigating what he could do to help the Josephs and their community, he introduced them to the Road Neighbours app. This enables them to get congestion, noise and air quality information through their smartphones.
The Josephs can also use the app to feed back. For example, they can submit information about times when it’s particularly noisy in their garden or congested on the road outside – submitting sound recordings and photos taken on their phones. This information helps the road designers come up with solutions.
The app provides details of any new schemes affecting the community, highlighting how the proposed work addresses people’s key concerns. If the Josephs have any questions, they can give John a call.
Knowing their concerns are being addressed makes Dalila, Anton, Naomi and Jaden feel that the motorway is already a better neighbour than it used to be.