Government to improve road journeys with £93m investment

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Roads Minister Baroness Vere announced on 28 February that 32 local authorities will receive investment for essential repair works, levelling up infrastructure, cutting congestion, improving road conditions and making journeys easier.

This includes over £4m for crucial repairs to the New Elvet Bridge in Durham along with £3.7m to help refurbish several steel bridges around Northumberland. The investment comes as the Government seeks to boost UK innovators through a £900,000 investment to fund cutting-edge research projects aimed at creating a better transport system – the first of which includes world-leading innovations to spot and repair potholes.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “There is nothing more frustrating than a journey delayed by poor road conditions, and this multi-million-pound boost will help improve connectivity across the country. This investment will

Potholes, such as these in Magdalen Street, Oxford could be a thing of the past with the Shape-Pot project. RICHARD SHARMAN

not only help local areas to target current pinch points on their roads but will also harness our world-leading research and innovation capabilities to future proof the next generation of journeys.”

One of the projects to receive funding will see the development of a new AI-powered app to detect potholes in real-time, using mobile phone sensors to measure when cyclists ride over or swerve to avoid them. It is hoped the app will help local authorities to quickly identify when potholes are forming and take quicker action to fill them.

Another project known as Shape-Pot will create 3D pothole models to create a fully autonomous repair platform capable of automatic, uniform repairs – accelerating the transport network of the future.

Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool, Paolo Paoletti, said: “The Shape-Pot project has the potential to change the way roads and their defects are managed, promoting a data-driven approach to management and improving efficiency – making roads safer and more accessible.

Thanks to the funding, the team will create a proof-of-principle autonomous robotic platform to characterise road surface, the first step toward autonomous maintenance of roads.”