New system to stop bridge bashes

2016-06-14 06:00
 A new 3D lazer system should help prevent trucks crashing into the Atlantic Road bridge in Muizenberg.  PHOTO: city of cape town

A new 3D lazer system should help prevent trucks crashing into the Atlantic Road bridge in Muizenberg. PHOTO: city of cape town

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In a Cape Town first, a 3D laser detection system has been installed in Muizenberg.

Transport for Cape Town installed the system to assist in preventing vehicles with a height of 2.5m and more from crashing into the low railway bridge at Atlantic Road, explains Mayco member for transport, Brett Herron.

“The railway bridge crossing Atlantic Road is notorious for crashes, mainly because road users often underestimate the height of their vehicles or load. A vehicle crashes into this bridge about once a week despite the numerous signboards warning drivers of the 2.5m height restriction.”

It became apparent that a different warning system was required to improve the safety of road users and prevent crashes as the earlier systems were affected by the extremely corrosive environment and required constant maintenance, Herron says.

The opportunity to remedy this situation was offered by the recent Main Road rehabilitation project when it was decided that an improved system could be installed as part of the roadworks. “Officials proposed a 3D laser detection system following international research. A system developed by a local company was installed above the northbound carriageway of Main Road, about 150m from the intersection with Atlantic Road. It uses an infrared laser beam to read the height of the vehicles and their load. Should it detect that a vehicle in the turning lane is higher than 2.5m, a warning system is triggered. A signboard with high-power LED lights will flash for about 30 seconds, indicating to the driver that their vehicle is too high to cross underneath the railway bridge,” Herron says.

Although it is too early to determine the success rate of the new system, no crashes have occurred since the beginning of June when the system started operating, Herron says. “We have spent about R300 000 on the system. This is a small price to pay if it can prevent at least half of the crashes that we have witnessed over the years and assist in improving the general road safety.”

The 3D laser detection system is the first to be installed in Cape Town, with plans to roll out two more – one above the southbound carriageway of Main Road for traffic approaching Atlantic Road from Steenberg, and another above Atlantic Road for traffic approaching the railway bridge from the eastern side along the R310.

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