Spillage trials aim to re-open roads more quickly
During a major road incident where police forensic work is required, National Highways teams are often restricted from treating spillages such as oil or diesel, that can damage the road surface in as little as 90 minutes. A new scheme is testing if innovative treatments can avoid this damage without destroying vital forensic evidence.
Funded by the National Highways Innovations Designated Funds scheme, the trial costing more than £270,000 is taking place at an unlikely venue – Santa Pod Raceway near Northampton – where a new 200-metre long road surface has been laid. Evidence such as tyre marks and debris has been recreated in the trial area, along with oil and diesel samples.
Specialists are testing fluid-based treatments, to see if they can absorb any spillages, without destroying evidence. Sian Norman, National Highways On-Road Service Delivery Manager, said: “During any incident, we work very closely with police colleagues to make sure the area is kept sterile for forensic investigation, but we’re always aware that we need to get the road back open as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The estimated cost of a full carriageway closure to the economy for two hours is around £750,000, increasing to £3 million with a four-hour closure. Following the trial, there are plans for a new Standard Operating Procedure across England’s police forces to help reduce closure times and costs.