Shetland broadband project opens up new micro-trenching application for Stirling Lloyd
The specification of Stirling Lloyd’s Safetrack Crack Infill on a major new broadband installation project in the Shetland Islands has played a key role in reducing road closure time and minimising disruption and opened up exciting new micro-trenching application opportunities for the product.The £1.1m fibre optic broadband project, initiated and funded by Shetland Island Councils (SICs) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) uses innovative micro-trenching technology to install fibre optic cables and improve the islands’ local Internet infrastructure.
Following road excavation and installation of the cables in a micro-trench just 20mm wide and 150mm deep, Safetrack Crack Infill is being used to quickly reinstate the road surface to a safe and serviceable state.
Micro-trenching is rapidly emerging as a fast and cost effective way of installing fibre optic cable. The process in Shetland involves cutting a micro-trench into the road surface which connects junction boxes at approximately 1km intervals. Once the small fibre optic bundle has been installed, a suitable reinstatement technique is required.
Whilst traditional asphalt products could not be used to reinstate such a narrow trench width, as adequate compaction would not have been possible, Stirling Lloyd’s Safetrack Crack Infill was an ideal solution.
All the excavation, cable laying and Safetrack Crack Infill reinstatement work has been carried out by Tulloch Developments. On the project the reinstatement element – traditionally the slowest part of any trenching process – was completed at a fast rate of up to 600m a day. With traffic management a major cost element on any highways maintenance project, the importance of Safetrack Crack Infill’s rapid application and fast cure was also crucial.
This initiative, part of the ‘Digital Shetland Strategy’, is looking to deploy fibre optic broadband to 80 per cent of the islands’ communities by the end of the first quarter of 2016, transforming communication between the Shetland Islands and the rest of the world and opening up new business opportunities. Thanks to this latest micro-trenching technology and the Safetrack Crack Infill reinstatement, a project that might potentially have caused major inconvenience to the local community is instead being successfully implemented with minimal disruption to road users.