Major changes announced to improve Surrey’s roads

Surrey County Council has become one of the first local authorities in the UK to trial the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to spot potholes.

Computer vision cameras, fitted to dashboards inside council vehicles, spot defects and report their location, height, width and depth, along with information gathered by Highway Safety Inspectors. The software can also track the development of potholes that don’t need immediate attention by taking repeat measurements over time to ensure they are dealt with when needed.

AI technology is also being trialled for condition surveys on the highway network and to gather data on traffic movements to help design and review new schemes. Sensors are also being piloted to measure the temperature of the road network to inform decisions about winter gritting.

Also this week: the Department of Transport approved Surrey’s bid for £660, 000 to improve bus travel in Mole Valley as part of the National Bus Strategy announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

Known as ‘Demand Responsive Transport’, the frequency of bus services in the rural areas of Mole Valley will significantly increase, be fully accessible and available on-demand by booking through an app, by phone or online. This will also enable residents to access real time information about availability and vehicle proximity of the four new environmentally friendly, electric buses.

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet will be considering further transport improvements at their next meeting on 30 March 2021. These include the introduction of a community “HGV Watch” scheme to help prevent drivers of large goods vehicles using unsuitable routes and new projects to improve walking and cycling routes in Guildford, Woking, Reigate & Banstead, Spelthorne and Farnham.

Cabinet Members will review a new rail strategy for Surrey which sets out the council’s priorities for the provision and operation of rail services over the coming years.

Cabinet Member for Highways, Matt Furniss, said: “We are always looking at ways to improve Surrey’s roads and keep the county moving.

“We are well aware that potholes are an area of concern for our residents and want to do all we can to help improve this situation.  Whilst we have fixed 200, 000 potholes over the last four years, this cutting-edge AI technology can improve how we detect them for safer and even better managed roads. This trial is part of our £200m investment in Surrey’s highways over the next five years which will see us improve approximately 350 miles of road and 180 miles of pavements.

“With transportation responsible for 46% of Surrey’s carbon emissions, we are also committed to encouraging more active travel to help our environment and will be investing £6m to enhance walking and cycling facilities.

“I am also delighted that our bid to improve bus services in Mole Valley has been approved by government. This will undoubtedly help residents in this area who have traditionally had to be heavily car-dependent due to their rural location.”

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