SWARCO Traffic has specified and installed a complete parking solution and traffic management system to improve the driver experience and reduce congestion at Teesside Park, one of the biggest retail locations in the North East.
With an annual footfall of more than 12 million people, Teesside Park is currently undergoing a major redevelopment project to further improve access and public spaces with new landscaped areas and walkways.
The plans also included the complete redesign and redevelopment of the park’s parking facilities and parking management after identifying inefficiencies in the existing processes and strategy.
Brian McFarlane, Senior Project Manager at SWARCO Traffic, says that one of the main issues was co-ordinating traffic flow management, “Drivers were struggling to find available parking spaces, causing unwanted congestion and a somewhat chaotic parking experience, especially during peak times,” he explains. “Ultimately a solution was needed that not only reduced congestion, but also improved the user experience and maximised the parking spaces available.”
The retail park is owned by British Land, who appointed Bowmer + Kirkland/ Ltd as the main contractor for the project. B+K says it asked SWARCO Traffic to design and specify parking solutions based on the very latest thinking and smart technologies.
SWARCO says it took a holistic approach, delivering a solution that encompasses both hardware and management software tailored to meet the needs of the park, explaining that it quickly identified that a lack of parking spaces was not necessarily the problem; the challenge was in identifying where parking was available and specifically signposting spaces that were vacant to provide clearer communication to drivers and ultimately improve their experience.
As part of the solution, McFarlane says that SWARCO recommended a combination of different sign types: “Full colour RGB traffic information signs have been installed to guide drivers entering and exiting the park,” he continues. “These signs are complemented by a series of parking guidance Variable Messaging Signs (VMS) installed across the retail park to display clear space availability arrows, featuring the number of free spaces in green or displaying ‘full’ in red. This enables drivers to clearly see whether spaces are available or not in a particular car park from a distance and take the appropriate, safe course of action.”
The VMS can also be utilised to display any image or text and can therefore be utilised for multiple purposes, including providing parking and traffic flow information, site-wide safety announcements and to tell drivers and visitors of any events, maintenance works or road closures.
Intelligent data is sent to the signs by a series of integrated car park counters installed in the VMS, control cabinets and Inductive Loops that record all vehicles entering and leaving a car park. It means the data and status of the car parks are presented in real time, enabling British Land to better manage parking availability.
Gary Higgins B+K’s Contracts Manager for the scheme, commented, “The level of service provided by SWARCO during the project has been very impressive. We’re pleased with the immediate impact the system has had on making parking a whole lot easier across the park.”