Published on 07 July 2021
Compact Ecorail increases road safety and prevents tree felling
The first Compact Ecorail along the N919 near Oosterwolde in Friesland was officially opened on 7 July 2021, in the presence of the Frisian provincial executive member Avine Fokkens-Kelder. The innovative concept received the required CE certification in May 2021, clearing the way for the combination of BAM, Saferoad Holland and Witteveen+Bos to install the innovative crash barriers.
The initiators had won a competition held by the Province of Friesland in 2020, to develop a new crash barrier concept. The crash barrier is intended to enhance safety on provincial roads, because it can be installed in locations where there is no space for a traditional barrier.
Trees are so close to the road along many provincial routes that they pose a risk to traffic safety. These trees are located within the so-called obstacle-free zones. They often have an important landscape value, ruling out felling them as an option. The installation of traditional crash barriers is often not possible because of the narrow verge, which is often also occupied by piping. The working width (or deflection space) of just 0.6 metres means that this system can still protect vehicles safely, even when obstacles are very close to the road. This means that the Compact Ecorail can prevent trees from having to be cut down.
Its angled anchoring means the Compact Ecorail guidance structure also fits in where there are cables and pipes in the ground and limited space is available. In a collision, damage to the cables and the pavement structure is prevented. The crash barrier superstructure consists of weatherproof steel, a strong material suited well to the landscape. The design fits seamlessly with standard and commonly-used crash barriers.
The Compact Ecorail scores far better for sustainability than the most common alternatives, such as hot-dip galvanised steel. Calculations show that the production of the Ecorail only causes one-third of the carbon emissions per running metre, compared with a regular crash barrier (2 kg CO2-eq versus 6 kg CO2-eq). Its ECI (Environmental Cost Indicator) score is also just one-third of that for regular crash barriers.
The Compact Ecorail is expected to offer a solution on more provincial and municipal roads throughout the Netherlands, where verge space is limited and road safety is in need of improvement. The combination is therefore also keen to make a significant contribution to traffic safety and tree preservation at other locations in the country.