The Hindhead Tunnels

Managing Traffic Beneath the Devil’s Punchbowl
Surrey, UK

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The A3 road in the south of England serves to connect London to Portsmouth, and has been historically significant for linking England’s capital city with one of its major sea ports. By 2000, most of the A3 had been rebuilt as a dual carriageway to accommodate increased traffic flow, but the Hindhead section of the road remained a single carriageway that climbed around the side of the Devil’s Punchbowl, a site of special scientific interest. As a result, the A3 section stretching through the Hindhead area would operate at or above capacity and cause severe congestion, resulting in an accident rate of about 40 percent above the national average.

The Tunnels

The Hindhead Tunnels were opened in July 2011 to solve this problem, replacing the winding road with a four-mile bypass, of which 1.14 miles comprise the twin-bore tunnels, making the route safer and more efficient. Electrosonic helped the twin Hindhead Tunnels deliver on their promise of roadway efficiency by installing a large overview video wall display and operator consoles in the control room at the tunnels’ northern end.

The Control Room

Working with main contractor Balfour Beatty Engineering Services for the Highways Agency, Electrosonic engineered and installed the video wall plus a series of operator consoles. In order to provide the client with a clear picture of what the system would look like and how it would operate, Electrosonic produced graphic visualisations that demonstrated how the control system would fit in the available space. The finished result corresponds almost exactly to these visualisations.

Electrosonic's Visualization

The Highways Agency wanted the control room to operate in a similar fashion to other traffic control rooms on the major road network, but with the additional stipulation that data relating to non-traffic aspects of the tunnel, such as live CCTV images, be accessible at the same time. Utilising a combination of ergonomic operator consoles and a video wall display, Electrosonic devised a system that allows operators in the control room to monitor images from 104 cameras and review data supplied by the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, which supervises the lighting, ventilation, incident detection and other support systems.

The Overview Display

The video wall features six, 50-inch DLP projection cubes arranged in a 3x2 array. The format, along with the cubes’ 16:9 aspect ratio, ensures that the maximum amount of information can be displayed in a space with relatively low ceiling height. The cubes give a pixel perfect, near seamless image surface with a total resolution of 5760x2160 pixels while requiring just 18-inches in depth.

An image processor configured to receive 36 video inputs and four computer graphics images feeds the display. The processor is able to display any required combination of images, each of which can be any size and positioned anywhere on the display. Multiple pre-sets optimise the display for different situations or monitoring requirements; operators select them at the click of a mouse on the display control computer. Graphics reach the processor via a standard Ethernet network, but the video inputs are derived from a switching matrix, which is part of the CCTV system.

Electrosonic supplied the mounting frame for the video wall cubes, complete with cladding and a base unit outfitted with storage space. The company also provided electronically-operated “sit-stand” type operator consoles, which allow operators to choose the most comfortable operating height.

To ensure many years of reliable service, Electrosonic is providing support service through the facility managers, Enterprise Mouchel. This service includes lamp replacement, 24/7 emergency call out with a four-hour response time, and routine preventative maintenance.