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Launching a smart interchange in Kaunas – an efficient way to ensure road safety at minimum cost

A modern smart interchange to be launched this week in Kaunas City on M. K. Čiurlionio Street at the railway station. The project will help the bus drivers to safely drive from the parking lot to the extremely busy street and avoid traffic jams and accidents that the buses would very often get involved into. The interchange engineering design was elaborated by Kelprojektas, the biggest transport infrastructure engineering company in the country, in cooperation with Fima, the company of intellectual engineering solutions. The reconstruction of this problem interchange cost a few hundred thousands of litas.

"Complete reconstruction of interchanges of such nature usually requires especially big funds. Due to insufficient financing of the national roads, the reconstruction projects of many streets and interchanges are difficult to implement. Therefore, we are very pleased that we, together with our partner Fima, could offer Kaunas City both efficient and relatively inexpensive way to solve the problem, which will help to tackle the road safety and efficiency problems on the streets of Kaunas", - says Algimantas Medžiaušis, CEO of UAB Kelprojektas.

The modernization works of the interchange commenced in June and they were completed in less than three months. Reconstructed interchange now is equipped with a modern traffic-light system, which gives the priority to the buses that enter M. K. Čiurlionio Street before other traffic participants. The drivers of the buses that stop here were furnished with contactless smart cards. When a bus approaches the interchange, the system, reacting to such cards, stops the traffic on M. K. Čiurlionio Street, lights green signal for the bus, and lets it through. This new smart interchange so far is the only interchange of such nature in Lithuania by its principle and model of operation.

"The number of vehicles in big cities in Lithuania increases every year and it results in increasing traffic jams, accident rate, and, which is especially relevant for the cities, it becomes more and more difficult to ensure efficient control of the traffic of public transportation. With a view to not only ensure safety of traffic participants and convenient communication, but also increase the appeal for public transportation, it is important to ensure the application of such intellectual transport solutions at a higher degree", - says Rokas Šlekys, Director of Solutions Department at Fima.

This interchange in Kaunas has been a great concern for years because of the traffic accidents involving the buses. Modern traffic-light system will help solving this problem. Moreover, new traffic-light compatible with the signal-controlled interchange in that stretch will help to avoid the eventual traffic jams.

The part of the city with the reconstructed crossing belongs to historical part of Kaunas, thus all engineering solutions were elaborated confining strictly to the requirements of protection of the state protected objects of cultural heritage. In view of limited financial resources and the environmental protection requirements, certain raw materials, as for example sides or blacktop of the streets, were recycled. For the same purpose the project was divided into several stages. Now the first – the fundamental – stage of reconstruction was finished.

"The following main construction works were implemented at minimum input and cost: transport throughput was increased in the stretch of M. K. Čiurlionio Street from Tunelio Street, the turn and the traffic lane for public transportation was built, a new traffic-light signal was installed at the turnaround interchange for public transportation, as well as especially dangerous left turn from Girstupio Street was eliminated. Moreover, the project covered the reconstruction of present pavement areas by adapting them for the disabled; the blacktop was marked with durable thermoplastic. The future plans include the reconstruction of the passenger embarkation and disembarkation grounds, bus stops, construction of new pavilions, benches, and protective fences for the pedestrians", - says Dovydas Banys, Project Manager of Constructions Department at Kelprojektas.

According to the contractors, other municipalities could also take advantage of KaunasCity experience in implementing efficient reconstruction projects at minimum cost. Public transportation priority systems function in most of the cities in the USA and Western Europe and help to ensure safe, attractive, and efficient passenger transportation by bus.