Forever Open Road



Forever Open Road



Forever Open Road Newsletter #1



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The Forum of European National Highway Research Laboratories (FEHRL) has set itself the challenge to develop a truly inspiring vision for how roads will be built and maintained in the 21st century. The result is the Forever Open Road – a revolutionary concept that will bring together the best of what we have today with the best of what’s to come, and produce the 5th generation road. A road that is adaptable, automated and climate change resilient, based upon a concept for building and maintaining roads that can be applied whether motorway, rural or urban, and regardless of region or country.

By bringing together innovative technologies and concepts, and by harvesting knowledge and expertise from across Europe this new generation road will transform the way roads are built, designed, maintained and operated. It will also bring Europe to the forefront of developing the future of transport.

The Forever Open Road will tackle global challenges such as climate change, carbon reduction, energy saving, as well as the increasing need for journey time reliability in response to rising demand both for private car travel and the delivery of goods by road. At the same time, it will help meet European goals to provide transport infrastructure that is:

  • Safe and secure
  • Cleaner, quieter and more energy efficient
  • Highly competitive and sustainable
  • Provide enhanced mobility
  • Based on optimised, efficient seamless systems

The Forever Open Road will encourage Pan-European engagement and collaboration, and stimulate research across the member states bringing cost savings and benefi ts for all. It will also bring together public and private sector organisations with expertise in road design, travel behaviour, road safety, intelligent transport systems, vehicle manufacture, environmental impact and product manufacturing.

This all-embracing concept will be taken forward by FEHRL with support from European governments, universities and private industry. Many benefits will arise from working together and focusing upon a common vision aimed at meeting European, national and regional goals. There are three elements to the Forever Open Road:

  • The adaptable road
  • The automated road
  • The climate change resilient road

The road would adapt to future maintenance, changing capacity demand and vehicle manufacturer needs; it would automatically provide in-built vehicle guidance, as well as travel information and performance measurement; it will be built from sustainable materials; and will harvest, store and use energy, will cope with excess water and temperature change, and will be able to clean and repair itself.

The overall aim would be for roads to be Forever Open, with minimum intervention for repairs and widening or for new installations or for dealing with weather hazards. The key to this new approach will be the adaptable element, formed of prefabricated, upgradable pavement structures that retain long-life regardless of the need for upgrades and interventions. The adaptable element will accommodate the automated and climate change resilient elements.


 The Adaptable Road

 The Automated Road

 The Climate Change Resilient Road


The Challenges

The journey to the Forever Open Road will not be without its challenges; not least because some of the obstacles to be overcome are as yet unknown. What is certain is that Europe’s central forum for highway research, FEHRL, can provide the leadership and motivation that is needed to deliver a programme of research with such a wide scope for
innovation and with such a potential for the development of new products, methods and specifications.


What Happens Next

The phasing of the programme of research will take the Forever Open Road through from concept development through to demonstration projects and monitoring, and working towards full-scale trials of both the individual elements and the complete concept. The planned phasing of the programme is:

Phase 1
Concept development – complete by 2010
Phase 2
Scoping the research and development – complete by 2011
Phase 3
Development of the three elements – complete by 2013
Phase 4
Demonstration projects and monitoring – 2013 onwards.


Getting Involved

Taking forward such a visionary concept will require support and involvement from governments, academic institutions and industry from across Europe. If you or your organisation would like to become involved please contact:

Ir. J.R.K. (Ruud) Smit
Programme Manager Forever Open Road
Blvd. de la Woluwe 42/B3
1200 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 775 82 48
Fax: +32 2 775 82 54
Mobile: +31 623 926 497
Steve Phillips
FEHRL Secretary-General
Blvd. de la Woluwe 42
B-1200 Brussels
Phone: +32 2 7758245
Fax: +32 2 7758254
Bob Collis
TRL, Crowthorne House
Nine Mile Ride
Wokingham Berkshire RG40 3GA
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)1344 773131
Fax: +44 (0)1344 770356