Training the next generation of road network planners

National Highways – formerly Highways England – has launched a scheme aimed at helping young people understand the challenges and successes of building the next generation of transport links. The scheme, which is based around the popular game Minecraft, lets students see what it takes to design, plan and build a successful road scheme.

Encouraging STEM subjects

By its nature, the National Highways scheme encourages the core subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths, and it also pays significant attention to the importance of protecting species of flora and fauna, and maintaining biodiversity. So students may come across scenarios where they need to identify important animal habitats and work out how to plan a road system that avoids them.

They also have to take into account other issues, such as managing archaeological sites, protecting our history as well as our current environment. And, of course, there is a focus on the next generation of engineering, including the machines used to build tunnels, and how to use more sustainable materials. These are all represented by a range of different games, based on actual road projects happening now, including:

  • Signs game based on the Lower Thames Crossing
  • A303 Stonehenge – through the ages
  • Natural habitats at the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements

The project also explores a number of careers relating to the road transport network, including Ecologist, Engineer, Tunnel machine operator, Designer, Welder and Archaeologist.

One of the teachers using the National Highways game system said: “We’re looking at archaeology, engineering, and sustainability in the game. This has broadened their understanding of what goes into building a road.”

Traffic surveys supporting road improvements

Part of the planning and design of road improvements or new road building is having accurate data about current conditions, journey times, parking availability and congestion. This data is often used to make arguments for widening of existing roads, extension of road networks or new building. And this data is best collected by accurate traffic surveys and other surveys that give a clear picture of what’s happening right now.

At Road Data Services, we have years of experience in traffic surveys, helping developers and planning committees make informed decisions about changes or updates to the road network that will bring long-term benefits to local communities and economies. To find out more about how we can help, just contact us today.

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