Roads Australia NEWS

Roads Australia Insider - May 18, 2012

National pipeline a welcome resource for industry, says RA

Inspired by Roads Australia’s own Pipeline webpage, the Federal Government has launched its much anticipated National Infrastructure Construction Schedule (NICS) website.

The NICS website - www.nics.gov.au - responds to long-standing industry calls, led by Roads Australia, for a national, published pipeline of major infrastructure projects.

The absence of such a published pipeline drove Roads Australia to begin publishing its own east coast Pipeline of major road projects two years ago.

The template created by RA has subsequently been acknowledged as an important reference for the new NICS.

“After years of talking to governments about the importance of a national published pipeline, Roads Australia is delighted the Commonwealth has taken this important step,” says RA President, David Stuart-Watt.

“How useful the NICS ultimately proves to be will depend on the level of information provided, how often it is updated, and how far ahead it looks.

“Our members need a three-to-five year window on what major road projects are coming to market to be able to efficiently plan their resources and submit tenders that deliver the best value.

“This is a great first step.  We would encourage all the government partners involved to continue to work towards making it as transparent and forward-focussed as possible.”

Mr Stuart-Watt says Road Australia will continue publishing its own Pipeline webpage for the foreseeable future.

“The RA Pipeline is specifically focused on road projects and has proven to be a useful tool that supplements the business development activities of our members,” he says.

“We would hope that once the NICS is firmly established there will no longer be a need for a dedicated road industry pipeline.”


 

‘One-stop shop’ to encourage greater efficiencies in project delivery, says Govt

The Federal Government says the NICS will be a ‘one stop shop’ showcasing large infrastructure projects, generally over $50m for larger states, with smaller states and local government having some projects under this threshold.

The NICS will differentiate between those projects where governments have agreed to fund construction and those where governments have approved funding for studies and planning phases which fall short of approval for construction.

The NICS includes a page dedicated to the Infrastructure Australia’s National Priority List to enable users to view Australia’s current nationally significant infrastructure priorities without having to leave the NICS website.

The NICS also includes a separate page outlining planning and feasibility studies to provide industry with an awareness of possible future projects prior to any commitment by governments to fund construction.

The Government says the primary goal of NICS is to allow for more effective and efficient resourcing, encourage overseas constructors into the market and to facilitate broader involvement, competitive bidding and efficient project delivery.

At its launch, NICS contains only those projects where there are still opportunities for firms to bid on contracts.  Over time, the NICS will reflect how these projects, as well as any new projects, move along the project lifecycle, leading to a deep and liquid pipeline of infrastructure opportunities.

As this is a brand new initiative the full suite of data may not be available immediately, however governments will endeavour to provide the complete data set as soon as possible.

The NICS can be accessed at www.NICS.gov.au.

The Department welcomes feedback on the NICS to help us improve the website at NICSProject@Infrastructure.gov.au or on 1800 155 798.

 

$3.9 billion committed to transport projects IN WA

The WA Government says it will invest $3.9 billion on new and ongoing transport projects and programs in 2012-13. The centrepiece of yesterday's State Budget was the announcement of a Western Australian Future Fund to redistribute revenue from the State’s mining boom, with an initial allocation of more than $1 billion.

Transport Minister, Troy Buswell, says the Government is investing in a range of transport projects across the State to deliver a balanced transport solution which will benefit metropolitan and country road users, public transport patrons, cyclists, pedestrians and industry.

Last month the Government pre-empted the Budget with an announcement of a $105 million allocation for initiatives to ensure the CBD had a sustainable transport network to accommodate major city projects and a growing population.

Yesterday’s Budget announcements also included $31.5 million for a traffic management trial to manage congestion on Perth’s freeways.

Mr Buswell says road safety funding is a key component of the transport budget, with $97 million for road safety projects across the State.

 In addition to the 2011-12 allocation of $2.65 million, $5.15 million is allocated over the next two years for detailed project planning to assist in informing the investment decision on the light rail project.

Cyclists will also benefit from the injection of $20 million over two years to improve Perth’s principal shared path network.

Mr Buswell says the State will also invest $276.5 million in the Gateway WA project over the forward estimates. The $1 billion project comprises Federal Government funds of $686.4million and State Government funds of $317.5million.

“The $1 billion Gateway WA project will deliver a safe, efficient and welcoming road and bridge network to the new Perth Airport precinct, the surrounding businesses, residential areas and the State of WA,” he says.

Some of the key road spending allocations for 2012-13 include:

  • $35 million towards the $59 million Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel and  Mitchell Freeway expansion;
  • $29 million to complete construction of an additional northbound lane on the Mitchell Freeway between Hepburn Avenue and Hodges Drive;
  • $83 million for the ongoing upgrade of the Great Eastern Highway from Kooyong Road to Tonkin Highway (Federal and State government funds);
  • $92 million for the Gateway WA project (Federal and State government funds);
  • $141 million for construction of the Great Northern Highway realignment at Port Hedland;
  • $94 million for the Esperance Port Access Corridor project; and
  • $67million on Stage One of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road.

For more WA Budget information click here.


 

Almost $200 million for Road and Rail Network in Tasmanian Budget

The Tasmanian Government says it’s continuing its commitment to safe and efficient infrastructure, with more than $195 million being invested in Tasmania’s road and rail network in 2012-13.

The funding includes $64.9 million from the Commonwealth and $130.5 million of State Government funding.

Minister for Infrastructure, David O’Byrne, says investing in key infrastructure is a major part of the Government’s strategy to diversify Tasmania’s economy, connect communities, and create lasting jobs.

The Government remains committed to delivering the $90 million Community Roads Program, and investing $21m on the Murchison Highway.

Mr O’Byrne says the Government’s ongoing infrastructure commitment has been demonstrated by works being completed on Lake Secondary Road, Ridgley Highway, and junction improvements with the Bass Highway and Mersey Main Road.

Work on Mud Walls Road is also progressing well, and due to be finished in early 2013, he says.

Planning work is also underway on several projects, including the South Arm Highway – Rokeby Road, the Bell Bay Main Road Junction, the Esk Main Road, and Arthur Highway project.

Mr O'Byrne says in the six years to 2013-14, the State Government will have invested more than $800 million in road and rail infrastructure under the Federal Government’s Nation Building Program – representing near-record investment levels.

He says the Government also remains committed to continued upgrades as part of the North East Freight Roads Project.

“It is pleasing to see the Australian Government’s continued commitment to improving freight transportation across our network,” Mr O’Byrne says.

“This Government is ensuring the benefits not only extend to the freight industry, but also improve safety on our roads,” he said.

Click here for more Tasmanian Budget information.


 

Resource sector to continue to drive construction growth

The resources sector will remain the main driver of growth across the non-residential construction sector for 2012 and 2013, according to the latest Australian Industry Group/Australian Constructors Association Construction Outlook survey. 

The latest forecast shows construction businesses expect the total value of engineering and commercial construction to expand by 14.7 per cent in 2012, and 13.8 per cent in 2013. This comes on top of growth of 8.2 per cent in 2011.  

Engineering construction will underpin growth, with turnover from the sector expected to increase by 17.1 per cent in 2012, and 15.4 per cent in 2013.  Mining investment and the strong pipeline of heavy industrial projects, led by oil and gas processing, will drive this growth.

It will be strongly supported by transport infrastructure, power generation projects and other civil mining-related projects including port upgrades.  Telecommunications is also set to increase solidly due to the roll-out of the National Broadband Network.

Despite the strong overall growth forecast, the survey confirms industry is facing ongoing skills shortages.  A higher proportion of businesses (69.7 per cent) expect moderate to major difficulty when recruiting skilled labour over the next six months.

Businesses are also facing significant difficulties in the procurement of capital supplies, including building materials and equipment.

Australian Constructors Association (ACA) President, Peter Brecht, says these supply constraints are being reflected in increases on a range of input costs, which is adding to the pressure on margins and heightening the exposure of businesses to project cost overruns.

 "Nevertheless, the growth outlook remains robust and there are encouraging signs of the commercial construction sector will start to recover, albeit modestly, over the next two years," he says.

 

West Gate Freeway gets smart technology

The Commonwealth and Victorian governments will provide $25 million towards the latest freeway management technology on Melbourne’s West Gate Freeway to help traffic flow and ease congestion.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, and Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Roads, Terry Mulder, this week announced details of the smart technology upgrade between the Western Ring Road and Williamstown Road.

The funding will be used to deliver cutting-edge technology including:

  • new mounted variable speed limit signs;
  • new ramp signalling at entry ramps;
  • closed circuit TV;
  • new digital variable message signs to provide live updates about traffic conditions and delays;
  • new signs to advise drivers of which lanes to use and speed restrictions during accidents; and
  • upgrade of supporting communications networks and central control systems.

Mr Mulder said Victoria was a leader in the installation of this smart technology.

“At the moment, the technology on this section of the M1 is limited to variable speed limits and traffic lights on entry ramps to control access to the freeway,” he said.

“Once completed, the project will provide a seamless technology link between the M1 east of Williamstown Road and the current M80 Upgrade.

“The full integration of these systems will make travel along two of Victoria’s busiest freeways safer and more free flowing.”

The Commonwealth has committed $12.5 million to the upgrade through the $60 million National Smart Managed Motorways component of the Nation Building Program, with the Victorian Government also contributing $12.5 million towards the project.

 

Vics begin next stage of planning for East West Link

Despite the absence of any funding in last week’s Commonwealth Budget, the Victorian Government is pushing ahead with planning for the East West Link. This week the first stage of geotechnical drilling got underway at Alexandra Parade in Clifton Hill as part of preliminary investigation works.

Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, and Roads Minister, Terry Mulder, were on hand to see the works commence on the back of this month’s State Budget commitment of $15 million to develop the business case and undertake preliminary planning,

"The East West Link is a significant project that will transform the way people move around Melbourne in a way not seen since CityLink and the city rail loop were constructed," Mr Baillieu said.

"The Coalition Government has reviewed and enhanced the East West Link project. The project would connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink and connect CityLink to the Port of Melbourne, as well as a connection between the Port of Melbourne to the Western Ring Road.

"The improved East West Link would provide an alternative to the M1 corridor, remove traffic from Melbourne's inner-arterial roads, particularly at Hoddle Street where the Eastern Freeway ends abruptly, and link industry in Melbourne's north, east and west."

Mr Mulder said this was a massive project of a scale not seen before in Victoria, and extensive geotechnical drilling was needed in order to understand the rock conditions under the ground for tunnelling.

Mr Baillieu said the geotechnical work was essential to ascertain how much the East West Link project would cost and how to achieve the best outcome for the community.

"Victoria was disappointed that the Federal Budget failed to provide any funding to assist the Victorian Government to progress the East West Link," Mr Baillieu said.

"East West Link is a project that will drive productivity gain and generate economic growth.

"Commonwealth funding is essential to take this project off the drawing boards and into construction," Mr Baillieu said.

 

LAST CHANCE FOR SUMMIT SEATS

There's less than two weeks to go to Australia's biggest and most important gathering of road industry professionals, the 2012 Roads Australia Roads Summit in Sydney. 

There are still limited places available for the both the two-day Summit on May 30 and 31,  and the glittering John Shaw Award Dinner on May 30.

This year's Summit is built around the theme of Roads and Transport of the Future, and will again feature leading industry speakers and provide the best networking opportunity in Australia.

Submitted by Mark Bowmer on Friday May 18th 2012 6:22am

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