In the coming months, the Flemish Traffic Control Centre (part of the Agency for Roads and Traffic), BMW Group, Be-Mobile and MAPtm will be testing a new ‘smart tunnel service’ on the Antwerp ring road. This will help them assess whether they can distribute traffic in a dynamic and clever way between the Kennedy and Liefkenshoek tunnels, in order to reduce traffic jams near the Kennedy Tunnel.
Better distribution of traffic density
In the Antwerp region, motorway traffic can cross the Scheldt river through two tunnels: the Kennedy Tunnel and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel. The Kennedy Tunnel is the busiest tunnel in Flanders, averaging 160,000 vehicles a day. On weekdays, there are traffic jams towards the Netherlands for 11 hours of the day. The Liefkenshoek Tunnel, which is a toll tunnel, is often less busy. It handles a daily average of 40,000 vehicles.
The aim of the pilot project is to determine whether a new, smart tunnel service can relieve the congested Kennedy Tunnel and distribute the traffic density more evenly between the two Scheldt tunnels on the Antwerp ring road, even when there are no specific incidents causing extra congestion and traffic jams. The tested service is, therefore, separate from the toll-free measure in case of serious delays, which will remain unchanged.
Pass the tunnel for free with the pilot project
During the pilot project, road users with an itinerary through the Kennedy Tunnel will be proactively offered an alternative route through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel when the Kennedy Tunnel is very busy. If they accept the offered diversion in their navigation system, they will immediately receive a digital voucher, which gives them free passage through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel. The tests are being done by certain users of the BMW navigation system and the Be-Mobile traffic app (Flitsmeister).
The decision to activate the voucher system is being taken by the Flemish Traffic Control Centre, which monitors traffic in the tunnels, based on real time traffic measurements by MAPtm. As soon as the traffic density in the Kennedy Tunnel increases, the system starts and the service providers involved will give road users an adjusted travel advice. As soon as the road user accepts the alternative route, he will get a voucher for a free journey through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel.
Part of a European project
The pilot project in Antwerp is part of the European project SOCRATES 2.0. In this project, public and private partners in different cities and in different situations examine how they can optimally work together, so that this actually results in better and smarter services for road users. Apart from Antwerp, there are also pilot projects in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Munich.
The cooperating partners are road authorities (Copenhagen, Flemish government, Rijkswaterstaat, Bast), ITS service providers (Technolution, MAPtm, HERE), a car manufacturer (BMW Group) and various market parties that supply traffic information and navigation services (Be-Mobile, TomTom, BrandMKRS).
Register as tester
The partners are still looking for testers. Interested road users can register via https://socrates2.org/registration. BMW drivers should have a ‘Professional’ navigation system as well as an on-board computer with BMW Operating System 6, with six-part tile structure. The technical conditions are matched via the registration website.