Swarco helps Warwickshire County Council in warning drivers of floods
SWARCO Traffic has designed and installed an intelligent flood warning system to divert drivers away from a ford in Kenilworth that has been causing traffic congestion problems during the recent spell of bad weather.
Working closely with Warwickshire County Council (WCC) engineers, SWARCO has provided a set of four signs on the approach and in close proximity to the ford. The two that are closest to the ford initially warn of water (up to 100mm) on the carriageway; these alert drivers of a flood and the risk of aquaplaning.
When the water rises above 100mm the two outer signs are activated to enable drivers to take an alternative route. The inner signs also add an additional message that the ford is impassable.
David Matthewson, team leader of the Traffic Control and Information Systems team at WCC, explained: “The two trigger levels were set based on the potential risk to motorists, and although these can be adjusted locally onsite to suit, initially we erred on the side of caution at commissioning.
“Following three periods of flood since late December 2015, we have increased the secondary trigger to reflect the water at carriageway level which is different to the sensor level due to the route taken by the water course at time of flood.”
Derek Williamson, Head of Sales for SWARCO Traffic, said that the company has used a new way of thinking to address an old problem: “We have used our proven expertise in traffic management technology to design a bespoke system that had previously been used to warn of high winds on viaducts and traffic queues, and adapted the concept to a new ‘flood warning’ environment.”
The technology comprises UTMC-compliant low energy/high visibility LED signs and an advanced OTT Hydrometry pressure sensor installed in a stilling well that detects when the water has risen above a certain level.
Using a UTMC interface, the sensors communicate with Warwickshire’s existing UTMC Common Database that in turn sends commands to set the sign messages. This also enables the signs to be set or messages cleared manually, should this be required.
A similar system has been successfully installed in Warrington to ease congestion at a notorious bottleneck that was frequently prone to flooding.