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Welcome to the first ECOROADS Project newsletter

December 2015

A comprehensive approach to making tunnels and roads safer

ECOROADS (Effective and Coordinated Road Infrastructure Safety Operations), is a Horizon2020 funded project that aims to overcome the barrier established by a formal interpretation of the two Directives 2008/96/EC (on road infrastructure safety management) and 2004/54/EC (on tunnel safety inspections), that in practice do not foresee the same Road Safety Audits/Inspections (RSA/RSI) to be performed on open roads and in tunnels. To overcome this barrier, the project will establish a common enhanced approach by applying the concepts (RSA/RSI) of the Directive 2008/96/CE to tunnels and in transition areas between tunnels and open roads, without jeopardising (but rather complementing) the usual tunnel safety management operations.
The approach of the ECOROADS programme is divided into several phases. They include:
  • Overview of the application of Directives (2008/96/EC on road infrastructure safety management and 2004/54/EC on tunnels), in the Member States and the extent of the differences between them.
  • Series of workshops with stakeholders (European tunnel and road managers).
  • Exchange of best practices and experiences between European tunnel experts and road safety professionals.
  • Joint safety operations on some European road sections with both open roads and tunnels, conducted by an international team composed of road and tunnel safety experts. The operations will be conducted in five different European locations selected from a list of possible locations. Tunnel operations will be conducted by tunnel experts accompanied by road safety experts (as observers) and vice-versa. This way, an actual cross-fertilisation between the two groups of experts will lead to an enhanced approach to the road infrastructure safety management.
  • Recommendations and guidelines for the application of Road Safety Audits and Road Safety Inspections concepts within the tunnel safety operations.
First stakeholder workshop reviews existing practice on application of road infrastructure and tunnel directives

On 30 September policymakers, road safety experts, engineers, tunnel and road auditors from Europe came together in Brussels to discuss the applicability of the two Directives.

The analysis and review of national practices regarding the application of the two Directives were discussed with examples from Ireland, Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands.  The process for the joint safety operations (final selection of 5 test locations across Europe and input for the definition of the procedures and priorities for the joint visits) was also established.

Based on the input from the experts present, the workshop concluded that the projects’ synchronised tunnel and road audits would require one or more persons acting as "task leaders/facilitators", ensuring the site visits will deliver the expected results.

The experts concluded that inspection teams should consist of 4-5 experts (at least two for each specialization). Experts should be left free to discuss and disagree, each of them will add their own comments in a single document with two main chapters and some sub-chapters, including transition areas.

There was also agreement that the transition areas are bi-directional: entering in the tunnel from the open road and going into the open road from the tunnel. The extension of such transitions will be decided case by case, according to the speed. Other physical and operational characteristics (e.g. radii, inclination, road and tunnel signage, existence of ramps) were also discussed.

The inspection criteria will be based on existing national rules, which will be provided by some partners. Check lists will facilitate the work, otherwise a clear list of expected results should be provided. We should go with some "shortened check lists” and very good guidelines for the inspections in the test sites.

More details on the exchange of best practices between tunnel experts and road safety professionals can be found on the page here, together with all presentations.
ECOROADS test sites in focus 

The project partners met for the first time in September to discuss the 14 pre-selected sites for inspection from 10 countries. The applications were received within the deadline of the first selection and were based on pre-established guidelines and ranking criteria (see presentation).

Applications for test-sites are  to remain open until mid-2016. The Committee set up within the project consortium has preselected the 5 test sites for the joint safety operations. The 5 sites were presented by the partners who submitted their applications.
  1. Kennedy tunnel in Antwerp, Belgium presented by An Volckaert of BRRC – it has a high percentage of heavy goods vehicles; a maximum of 10 external persons can participate in the inspection.
  2. Tunnel Rennsteig on BAB A71 in Germany presented by Ingo Kaundinya of BASt – in total four tunnels, heavy traffic and no dangerous goods; test in spring/summer (April-September).
  3. Tunnel Demir Kapija part of Corridor X in Macedonia presented by Liljana Cela of SEETO; works are still ongoing; bi directorial; no limit to number of experts; Ministry of Transport would like to attend. Preferable to have inspection in October.
  4. Krabbe tunnel in Tirana, Albania presented by Liljana Cela of SEETO - new project with one tube already open, authority guarantees test site visits. Weather is quite favourable at any time and spring is preferable time.
  5. Strazevica tunnel in Serbia presented by Liljana Cela of SEETO  - close to Belgrade bypass and preferable to visit between July and December 2016. 
Road safety operations assessed at second Brussels stakeholder workshop
On 19 and 20 November in Brussels, a second stakeholder workshop was held to discuss road safety operations on open roads and tunnels as well as European examples of good practices.

Dirk Lauwers from Ghent University presented the theoretical framework for road safety audits and infrastructure safety management. Country discrepancies in safety were outlined as well as future opportunities for Southern-European countries to improve infrastructure design, road audits and maintenance arguing for an extension of road safety management procedures to  roads which are not covered by the TEN-T network.

Application of road safety inspections and procedures in Germany (practices on open roads and tunnels) were presented by Andreas Vesper and Christof Sistenich from BASt.

The safety operations, major issues and best practices in Italy were outlined by Carlo Ricciardi from the Italian Ministry of Transport & Infrastructures and Paola di Mascio from University of Rome "Sapienza".

On the second day the joint tunnel and open road safety inspections experiences from across Europe were discussed with examples and tunnel statistics from the SEETO region (presented by Liljana Cela from SEETO) and Norway (presented by Arild Petter Søvik from NPRA).

The planning of the joint safety operations within ECOROADS was presented by An Volckaert & Xavier Cocu (BRRC). Definition of common procedures, field tests as well as reporting and feedback would be done in accordance with the expertise, dual approach (roads and tunnels inspections) and knowledge gathered by the experts in the participating countries. Potential risks as well as evaluation criteria would be included in the final report together with a checklist and audio-visual materials.

Selected presentations are available from or contact
ECOROADS at Transportation Research Board (TRB) 95th Annual Meeting 12-13 January 2016
Tuesday 12 January, 19-30-22:00  - Presentation at the International Research Activities Subcommittee AFB20 Roadside Design Safety -  Marriott Marquis, Marquis Ballroom Salon 5 (M2) (click here  to see the agenda).
Wednesday 13 January, 16:30-17:45 - Convention Center- Room 303 - How to establish a common enhanced approach to road infrastructure and tunnel safety management by using the concepts and criteria of the Directive 2008/96/CE on road infrastructure safety management and the results of related European Commission (EC) funded projects (click here to see the agenda).
The ECOROADS website is now online, with full details of the project, partners, news updates, events, documents and more.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 652821

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