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Smart Freeway setting a new pace for Perth motorists

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
16 October 2020

Perth motorists are enjoying faster, smoother and safer journeys since the opening of the new 13km Smart Freeway.

Arup designed the intelligent transport and freeway systems that are successfully dealing with the heavy congestion and frustrating bottlenecks which characterised peak period trips on the Kwinana Freeway. 

Traffic flow has improved noticeably since Western Australia’s first managed freeway opened on the northbound stretch just north of Roe Highway through to the Narrows Bridge.

Previously, the volume of cars went unmanaged on the Freeway which led to congestion, especially in the morning, when peaks could last more than three hours. 

Design and implementation of the new infrastructure was a complex endeavour; we were operating within a highly constrained live traffic environment between the Perth-Mandurah rail line and the Swan River. ”

Kenneth McTiernan, Associate Principal Kenneth McTiernan Associate Principal

“We worked closely with our Alliance partners (MRWA, BMD and Ventia) to ensure an integrated design approach; this was critical to successfully delivering the project objectives. 

“There were major physical elements to the design such as the large gantries with piled foundations, concrete barriers, retaining walls, service relocations, drainage, pavement and electrical/ communications infrastructure.”

The road network to the City from the growing southwest and southern suburbs has been improved with:

  • an extra traffic lane after the conversion of an emergency lane, between Canning Highway and the Narrows Bridge, to increase capacity

  • new traffic signals on five northbound on-ramps to improve flow and merging, and

  • six emergency stopping bays.

The Main Roads’ Network Operations Centre can now manage traffic in real time using:

  • overhead Lane Use Management Signs to open and close lanes and change speed limits if there is an incident 

  • electronic Variable Message Signs to inform drivers

  • Stopped Vehicle Detection system

  • CCTV, and

  • Automated Incident Detections system.

Perth's Smart Freeway illustration Perth's Smart Freeway illustration
Initial designs for the Smart Freeway

Much of the technology crucial to making this project work is buried underground (communication and electrical infrastructure). These elements were all factored into Arup’s digital design approach. By digitally engineering the work, the team was able to test and assess outcomes in advance of construction.

Motorists have adapted easily to the changed driving conditions, helped by 3D visualisations prepared by the Arup team prior to opening, and our Operational Readiness Activation and Transition (ORAT) services. 

The $56 million project was jointly funded by the Australian and Western Australian Governments.