Concerns have developed about road safety on roads recently improved under the Life Line Roads Program. In short, it appears that the newly improved roads – with smooth all weather surfaces – are encouraging some drivers to travel at unsafe speeds, especially through villages. This is placing pedestrians and other vulnerable road users at increased risk of involvement in a serious crash. In particular there is concern for the safety of school children in some villages where the school is located beside or very close to the Life Line Road.
The Transport PIU and the World Bank has agreed to fund a demonstration project in one village to show that safety can be improved by a combination of low-cost civil engineering works, public awareness and road safety education.
The Consultant Phillip Jordan (Australia) has been requested to assist with engineering inputs to this demonstration project.
Prior to the Consultant’s first trip to Armenia (May 2010), the Transport PIU had short-listed two villages (with Life Line roads constructed in 2009) to be inspected by the Consultant as options for a demonstration project:
1st option: Gyulakarak, Vardablur and Kurtan in Lori Marz, and
2nd option: Gyumri, Arevik and Ajgebac in Shirak Marz.
The Consultant inspected both sites with Mr Poghos Shahinyan (NRSC) in mid-May 2010. It was concluded that the first village (Gyulakarak) in Option 1 is an excellent candidate for a demonstration project. The school in the second option is located at the end of a Life Line road, just metres from the end of the work. The road beyond the school deteriorates substantially to become a “farm road” and from there it appears to be used by only a few vehicles per day. Consequently there was virtually no traffic observed passing the school. It has been agreed that the Gyulakarak village offers a very suitable location for a demonstration project in the “Safe Villages” program.
GYULAKARAK VILLAGE SCHOOL AND LIFE LINE ROAD
This school is located beside a busy Life Line Improvement Project (LRIP) road that was rehabilitated in 2009. The LRIP road commences approximately 300m east of the school. It is reasonably straight as it passes the school, with a 90° left hand curve less than 100m beyond the school. The road is 9m wide at the school gate, with a smooth driving surface.
The road here is wider than is necessary for travel, encouraging higher speeds. There is a slight down grade of about 3% from the east to the west. Beyond the curve the road is virtually flat and reasonably straight through the remainder of Gyulakarak.
There were no speed restriction signs in the village (or in the neighbouring village of Vardablur). Average speeds on the road are (estimated) 60km/h. Some vehicles were noted travelling at almost 80km/h. There were no street lights, and the line marking is becoming worn. There is a centre line plus edge lines but the dirt, mud and manure from the farms is obscuring the edge lines.
A site meeting was held on 9th May with the local village Mayor and the Principal of the local school. The school is a village school for some 250 students – ages 6-16 years. The school is approximately 300m from the start of the LRIP section (a Y-junction on the M3), where the road has a slight downhill grade. There was a pedestrian crossing at the front gate of the school, but it does not have the required regulatory signs. It is also not on the pedestrian’s preferred desire line, and so it apparently got little use by students. The Principal showed a lane near a sports ground that the students use to leave the school – they prefer to cross the road about 80m east of the existing pedestrian crossing. There was no crossing at this preferred crossing point to assist them safely across the road, but this point is reportedly on their desire line.
The Principal pointed out the preferred paths used by the students as they crossed the road, and he requested a new asphalt seal for a gravelled area along the front fence of the school. He expressed a concern that the new concrete footpath is too close to the road, and too close also to the speeding traffic, so that the children do not use it.
Less than 100m past the school is a sharp left hand curve and beyond that is a second pedestrian crossing – this one serves two bus stops. This crossing also was not have the required regulatory signage. One of the bus stops has not been sealed and it remains muddy and uninviting for use.
PROPOSAL OF CONSULTANT
As a result of the site inspection and the meeting with the Principal and the Mayor, the following package of low cost civil engineering works is proposed by Phillip Jordan for the LRIP road outside the Gyulakarak village school:
In the middle of August Road Safety Engineering Specialist of NRSC G.Arakelyan (RSES), Chief Specialist of “Roadproject” institute M.Ghazaryan and mayor of Armenian Road Police A.Simonyan have visited Gyulagarak village to discuss the implementation of the “Safe village” program.
Discussion was based on “REPORT ON THE PROPOSALS EMERGING FROM THE “SAFE VILLAGES” PROGRAM“prepared by the consultant Phillip Jordan. The opinion of Mayor of The Gyulagarak village A.Grigoryan and the Director of the Gyulagarak secondary school G. Matinyan was taken in consideration. As a result of discussions and site visit, commission proposed some measures which included the minor civil engineering works to be done on place to make safer the crossing near village school.
Draft design was prepared by “RoadProject” institute. Take into consideration the results of visit to target village (Gyulagarak) and remarks of Road Police the draft design have corrected by design institute.
Corrected draft safety design was discussed by RSES G.Arakelyan, lieutenant-colonel of Armenian Road Police D.Danielyan, Chief Engineer of “Roadproject” institute D. Hovsepyan and Chief Specialist M.Ghazaryan. As a result of discussions final design have prepared by “RoadProject” institute. The Final design of Road Safety Scheme include Gyulagarak road connection with Interstate Road (Photo 1), Gyulagarak road section near the School (photo2,3 and attached drawing) and section of road near Bus Station(photo 4).
Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3 Photo 4
The design has got the positive result of Expertise. Before the tender documentation was prepared by Transport PIU specialists, RSES implement the road safety audit (as preliminary testing of audit process). RS audit was carried in accordance with “Road Safety Audit Manual for Armenia” prepared by consultant Phillip Jordan (Australia). The Road Safety Audit Checklist for Detailed Design Stage was fulfilled. It can be concluded that design complies with the conditions of road safety. The bidding process for selecting the contractor organized by Transport PIU and after that begins the civil works in November.
Under the supervision of Transport PIU road construction works were implemented and completed. The works include Gyulagarak road section near the School (Photo5, Photo 6 and Photo 7) and section of road near Bus Station (Photo 8).
STUDENT ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION PACKAGE AND COMMUNITY AWARENESSS PROGRAM
Coupled with the low cost civil works (described above) there will be a road safety education package aimed at the school students. This will include the training of teachers and between 5-7 lessons for each grade in the local school.
This education campaign will be undertaken by an NRSC expert and will use a methodology, designed by a NRSC NGO between 2006-2009, which has been piloted in more than 50 schools throughout Armenia. It is proposed to disseminate books and manuals from that pilot for teachers.
In addition, a public awareness campaign will be led by an NRSC NGO and its partners throughout Gyulakarak and the next village on the LRIP road (Vardablur). The LRIP road links these two villages. It is considered that the drivers in both villages are responsible for the problem of speeding in each other’s village. During the campaign the informative material will be distributed from the campaign “Think before you drive” run by NRSC, which includes vital messages on speeding, seatbelts, drink and driving and more.