But how will a stretch of road achieve all that, and what does this new system mean for Perth drivers? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Smart Freeway?
According to Main Roads, a Smart Freeway is a regular freeway but with added technology known as Intelligent Transport Systems, or ITS.
These systems use in-road sensors, detection radars and CCTV cameras to monitor traffic conditions and adjust them in real time – for instance, changing speed limits when needed, using ramp signals to make merging easier during busy periods, and opening and closing lanes if necessary.
All these factors aim to improve traffic flow, which ultimately leads to less congestion and less time spent sitting in your car.
Why do we need it?
According to Main Roads, the volume of cars entering the Kwinana Freeway northbound at Canning Highway each morning is so large, it exceeds the capacity of the freeway, resulting in the ‘stop-start’ traffic conditions lasting up to three and half hours. Infrastructure Australia has also found that congestion added 32 minutes to the commute of a vehicle travelling the length of Kwinana Freeway in the morning.
Who else has Smart Freeways?
Smart Freeways are already being used around the world, including in the USA, Asia, Europe and the UK. They’re also already in place in most of Australia’s eastern states.
What do I need to know?
If you regularly use the Kwinana Freeway between Farrington and the Narrows, here is what you can now expect to see:
- Overhead electronic signs to open and close lanes, and to change speed limits when needed to respond to incidents;
- Electronic message boards to provide you with information about the conditions ahead;
- Traffic lights at some on-ramps to improve traffic flow and make merging onto the freeway easier and safer;
- Incident detection systems to detect vehicles stopped on the Smart Freeway and in each of the six emergency stopping bays;
- An extra lane and removed emergency lane between Canning Highway and the Narrows Bridge. This stretch of freeway was previously three traffic lanes with an emergency lane along the river. It has now been converted to four traffic lanes, turning the emergency lane into a live lane. This helps provide increased traffic capacity using an existing lane, but obviously also impacts what to do in a breakdown.
If there’s no emergency lane, what should I do if I break down?
The Kwinana Freeway will have six emergency stopping bays, one every 500 to 700 metres. If you break down and can safely pull over into one of these bays, do so carefully. From there, use the emergency phone (each stopping bay is equipped with one) to call the operations centre, or call them directly from your own phone on 138 138. The emergency bays are monitored 24/7 by staff in the centre, so they’ll already know you’re there and in need of help. From there, the operations centre team can organise help.