NSW road spending was on the front page last week, with the Daily Telegraph claiming there was no funding on the horizon for major road projects like the M4 East.
According to the Telegraph, ‘confidential government documents’ had revealed that major long-term road projects were left off the recent transport blueprint because of lack of funds. Quoting the documents, the Tele said the M4 East and F3 to M2 extension were at least 16 years away, while the M2 to M4 East tunnel would not be built before 2036.
In other news, today’s Courier Mail reported that covert speed cameras were being credited for a significant drop in the Queensland road toll for 2010 - so far down 54 on the same time last year.
And a story in last week’s Courier Mail quoted Deputy Brisbane Mayor, Graham Quirk, as saying the new Airport Link would do little to cut congestion on Kingsford Smith Drive.
Roads Australia’s Sustainability Chapter is working with industry stakeholders on ways to streamline the approvals process for the use of new and alternative sustainable materials for road construction.
The issue was discussed at last week’s Sustainability Chapter meeting, hosted by RA member Shell in Melbourne.
RA Policy Director, Christine Keyes, says industry players are keen to work together to improve the approvals process for sustainable materials and processes.
“Chapter members heard from AAPA about the current warm mix asphalt validation project underway in Victoria,” she said.
“This is a good example of the type of sustainable materials and processes that will drive innovation and competitiveness across the road industry in the future.”
Last week’s Chapter meeting drew an excellent representation of contractors, consultants, suppliers, industry organisations and government.
“Another key agenda item for the Chapter is the introduction of sustainability clauses in road contracts – not just for new construction but asset management,” Christine says.
“We’re already in discussion with governments on this issue. We believe this initiative will raise the bar in terms of sustainability outcomes for the roads sector.”
Planning is also underway for a major industry forum in November to bring to the table all the sustainability experience from across the private and public sectors.
Melbourne’s $2.25 billion M80 Ring Road Upgrade is pushing ahead, with a $31.8 milion construction contract awarded this month to BMD Constructions for work between Furlong Road and Sunshine Avenue at St Albans.
Work on this second package of major works is expected to start in the middle of this year and be completed in 2013.
This contract award coincides with the conclusion of the early works package, with the completion of the Tilburn Road bridge widening works at Deer Park as part of the Fitzgerald Road to Boundary Road section expansion.
The M80 Ring Road Upgrade is jointly funded by the Victorian and Australian governments. For more information, visit the VicRoads website.
The Federal Government’s proposed Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT) is set to force up the cost of major road and rail projects because of its impact on construction materials like sand, aggregate and concrete.
Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA), the peak national body for the heavy construction materials industry, says the Government has gone against the recommendations of the Henry Tax Review by including low-value extractive resources that are used to produce concrete, bricks, road pavements and many other vital building and construction materials within the scope of the RSPT.
CCAA Chief Executive, Ken Slattery, says if the tax is applied to Australia’s extractive industries it will inevitably force up the cost of many vital construction materials.
“It will add to the cost of the major road, rail and port infrastructure projects that the Government is championing through its own economic stimulus and infrastructure development programs,” Mr Slattery says.
“It will force some (quarry) operators to review their investment decisions and may force some to close, and this will affect the availability and cost of these vital materials to important building and construction projects.”
Mr Slattery says that while the industry has welcomed the Government's consultation process on the RSPT, it has serious concerns over the complexity and equity of the scheme.
“We urge the Government to think again about the broader consequences of this tax on those companies producing resources that underpin the vital Australian building and construction sector," he says.
"The responsible approach for the Government is to exclude these materials from the tax.”
Concerns over the new tax have also been raised by the Australian Constructors Association (ACA), which fears for the flow on-effects on the contracting industry.
"The engineering construction and process engineering industries are very important to the minerals sector and, the minerals sector is a significant user of contract mining companies' expertise, especially in the coal, gold, coal seam gas and iron ore industry," said ACA President, Wal King, last week.
"The proposed RSPT represents a significant structural change to the Australian taxation system and consultation with the industry on the proposals has been less than perfect.
"I think we all realise that this matter has some way to run with discussion papers, and a draft bill and senate hearings to come but that process also brings with it risks as final investment decisions on a number of significant projects may also be deferred pending an outcome on the RSPT.
"Already the decisions announced to suspend or delay major projects will have a significant impact on many ACA members and the subcontractors and suppliers that they engage. And if the decision to include quarried products is not reviewed there will be a direct increase in building costs.”
The ACA has proposed nine principles that it says should guide the development of the new tax.
The Western Australian Government says it will invest $1.2 billion building and maintaining the State’s roads in 2010-11.
Following the handing down of the State Budget on May 20, Transport Minister Simon O’Brien said this year’s road budget allocation would place a special emphasis on upgrading metropolitan and regional road black spots.
“The State Government will provide $220 million over the next four years for targeted grants through the Safer Roads and State Black Spot program to ensure the State’s roads network received much-needed upgrades,” he said.
“In addition, in 2010-11 the Government will provide funding of $136 million directly to local governments to undertake construction and maintenance on their own roads, up from $123 million in 2009-10.”
In 2010-11, 58 per cent of available road funding dollars will be spent on country roads with 42 per being spent in the Perth metropolitan area.
Key road building programs to have funding allocated include:
The Queensland Government has announced a major shake-up in infrastructure planning to anticipate and manage population growth across the entire state.
Premier Anna Bligh says a long-term Queensland Infrastructure Plan (QIP), the first of which will be delivered next year, will integrate the existing Queensland Roads Investment Program (RIP) and SEQ Infrastructure Plan and Program (SEQIPP), as well as other state infrastructure planning documents.
This new approach will mean the state-wide capital works program will have a renewed focused on managing population growth, she says.
“For the first time we will have a state-wide plan that will anticipate infrastructure needs in growing regions as we deliver on regionalisation to help take the pressure off the south east corner,” Ms Bligh says.
Key features of the QIP will include:
The Premier says consultation with SEQ councils about existing dwelling targets in their regions would be a major new direction of QIP.
The Queensland Government has announced the short-listed companies chosen to put forward their designs to expand one of the state’s economic engine rooms – the Port of Brisbane Motorway.
Main Roads Minister, Caig Wallace, announced earlier this month that Leightons, and a Seymour Whyte and BMD Joint Venture, could now start work on designs for the $320 million upgrade.
“It’s a crucial project for Queensland. The Port of Brisbane is the third busiest container port in the country, moving around $30 billion in cargo a year,” said Mr Wallace.
“This is about planning for and managing future growth. Total trade through the port is projected to grow to 53 million tonnes by 2026 and we’re rising to meet that growth.
“That’s why this upgrade is so important – it will deliver a more seamless, smoother motorway all the way to Port Drive.”
Work is expected to start on the upgrade early next year.
In other Queensland road news, brighter and wider line markings that light up for drivers at night and during the wet will be rolled out across regional Queensland.
Minister Wallace announced last week that after successful trials in the north of the State, $6 million would be spent rolling out new ‘visibeads’ across other regions.
Visibeads are large round glass beads that reflect light embedded in the line marking paint. The markings are 50 per cent wider than normal line markings.
The beads are sprayed on the line marking paint to produce a highly reflective surface that drivers can see more clearly and from greater distances.
“The larger beads also stand out in wet weather, so motorists can see the line markings more clearly. They also last longer than conventional line marking,” Mr Wallace said.
Abigroup in a joint venture with Seymour Whyte has been appointed to carry out the construction component of the $110 million duplication of the Douglas Arterial which forms part of the Townsville Ring Road in North Queensland.
The Douglas Arterial Duplication (DAD) project will increase the number of lanes of the road, between University Road and Riverway Drive, from two to four and will create a median divide dual carriageway.
The DAD project involves the construction of approximately 5.7km of two lane road plus shoulders, three new dual lane bridges and one new three lane bridge for Ross River/Riverway Drive.
The project also includes:
Abigroup’s Queensland Engineering Manager Peter Fitzgerald said: “We’re delighted to be awarded the Douglas Arterial Duplication project on the back of our successful collaboration with Transport and Main Roads on the Townsville Port Access Road project.
DAD is a joint Federal-State funded project to be delivered by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, with the main design work being carried out by AECOM.
Work is now underway and is scheduled to be fully completed in 2012.
It’s with regret that Roads Australia is bidding farewell to its Policy Director, Christine Keyes.
Christine is leaving RA to take up the full-time role of Manager, Marketing Communications at the NSW RTA’s Transport Management Centre in Sydney. She starts there on June 8.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Roads Australia executive, Board and members,” Christine says.
“I’d like to thank members for their support and contribution to the policy process over the past 18 months, and I look forward to staying involved with RA – particularly the Congestion Chapter – in my new role on ‘the other side’.”
RA Chief Executive, Ian Webb, says Christine has given great service to Roads Australia, and her day-to-day contribution will be sorely missed.
He says RA is now looking at how best to resource the Policy Chapter area and will be making a further announcement in the near future.
Submitted by Mark Bowmer on Monday May 31st 2010 12:08pm
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