Military anti-bomb barriers rolled out to protect road workers

Military anti-bomb barriers rolled out to protect road workers
Military anti-bomb barriers rolled out to protect road workers

Giant barriers designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs are being introduced to Britain’s motorways to protect workers and motorists.

Two 70-feet-long mobile barriers have been brought from the United States to offer more robust protection at road works as well as cut delays caused by the works.

In a European first, Highways England and infrastructure firm Keir Highways will trial the 16-tonne barriers, which are towed behind a lorry, on stretches of roads around the West Midlands, with plans to introduce them across the country.

Explosion protection

The barriers were originally designed for military use to protect personnel from roadside bombs but will be used by Highways England to shield workers on major roads from fast-moving traffic.

If struck from the side, the barriers absorb the impact from a moving vehicle while a lorry-mounted crash cushion gives further protection at the rear.

Highways England says that as well as improving safety, the barriers will mean roadworks take less time to complete as fewer cones and signs have to be put out and removed.

Improving safety

Highways England says the barriers will speed up works by cutting the number of cones and signs that need to be set out and removed. (Picture: Shutterstock)
Highways England says the barriers will speed up works by cutting the number of cones and signs that need to be set out and removed. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Martin Bolt, head of innovation projects for Highways England, said: “The mobile barriers, which are being used for the first time in Europe, are an innovative way of looking at how we can increase protection for road workers.

“And they’re helping customers too, because the faster we can get the work safely done the better people’s journeys will be.

“Together with our partners we have are demonstrating that we can make great improvements both to people’s journeys and communities and the environment around our network.”

Dave Wright, executive director for Kier Highways, commented: “As a company we’re committed to working with our partners to ensure we continuously develop technology that improves safety on the road for both road workers and users. We’re hugely passionate about this, and our improvements team is constantly looking at ways to innovate and pioneer new products that go towards this aim.

Our main priority is to make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day and we look forward to expanding mobile barrier across our other UK contracts.”

Self-driving dumper trucks

The barriers are part of a £150 million innovation project at the highways agency, which has also seen the introduction of self-driving dumper trucks on the A14 construction work between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

The trucks, which move huge amounts of earth, provide the potential to work around the clock, so could help reduce the length of time roadworks are on the ground. And by being autonomous, Highways England, they reduce the risk of road workers being involved in incidents on site.

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