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Roads Australia Insider - March 15, 2016


Monash Widening shortlist announced

Three bid teams – CPB and BMD Constructions, Fulton Hogan and John Holland – have been shortlisted for the Monash Widening Project.

Announcing the shortlist last week, Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, said the successful tenderer would be appointed in mid-2016, with construction to commence in late 2016 and completed by the end of 2018.

A range of early work has already been completed in preparing the tender requirements including environmental studies, pavement testing and working with local councils on planning for the project.

Almost 45 kilometres of the freeway will be upgraded between Chadstone and Pakenham, including widening from four to five lanes each way between the EastLink interchange and the South Gippsland Freeway, and from two to three lanes each way through to Clyde Road in Berwick. The works will be entirely within the road reserve.

Smart technology involving new and upgraded ramp signals and variable message signs will be installed to help prevent traffic banking up and causing congestion and crashes. A 20 per cent reduction in serious crashes is expected by creating smoother traffic flow onto and along the improved route.

The Monash Widening Project is part of the $5.5 billion Western Distributor Project.  


RA National Roads Summit: early-bird registration open until March 31

Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Darren Chester, former state premiers Nick Greiner and Peter Beattie and Infrastructure Australia CEO Philip Davies are among the speakers headlining the Roads Australia National Roads Summit in Sydney on May 19 and 20.  Early-bird registration is open until the end of this month.

This year’s Summit is themed around connectivity – the challenges and opportunities we face to integrate so-called disruptive technologies into our road transport system to enhance mobility in our urban centres. The Summit will feature international and local experts who will provide an update on the onset of the era of autonomous vehicles – what it means for road regulators, owners, builders and users.

The road agencies will be represented in a dedicated panel session, and a program of concurrent sessions will focus on some of the key practical and policy issues impacting on the industry – procurement, planning/design/delivery, worksite safety, ITS, sustainability, and standards.

The networking highlight will again be the John Shaw Dinner at the Sydney Town Hall on Thursday May 19. Last year’s event was attended by over 500, and this year promises to be just as big. We’re delighted to welcome a new John Shaw Dinner sponsor in 2016 – Arup

We are also very excited to have our Gold Sponsors on board for the 2016 Summit – ACRS, Advisian, Arcadis, Opus International Consultants and SMEC – and our Silver Sponsor – Altus Traffic.

The 2016 Roads Australia National Roads Summit also takes us to a new venue - the SMC (Sydney Masonic Centre) Conference and Function Centre, in Goulburn Street, at the southern end of the Sydney CBD.  The venue is close to parking and easily accessible to the airport.

For more information including the draft program and registration details, click here.


Queensland Government releases its vision for infrastructure

The Queensland Government has released its State Infrastructure Plan - which includes a four-year pipeline of projects - and at the same time announced the establishment of a new State Infrastructure Fund with an initial injection of $500 million.

The long-term State Infrastructure Plan outlines significant reforms to the way Queensland plans, prioritises and invests in infrastructure, and follows the establishment of Building Queensland as an independent infrastructure advisor to government and market-led proposals to encourage new private sector investment.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the State Infrastructure Fund included an initial investment of $500 million to deliver major projects across the state that will grow jobs, productivity and the economy, including in regional areas.

The Premier said $300 million of the State Infrastructure Fund would be invested in seven critical road and rail upgrades to help boost capacity and reliability:

  • Ipswich Motorway Upgrade, Stage 1 Darra to Rocklea
  • Pacific Motorway-Gateway Motorway Merge Upgrade (southbound lanes)
  • North Coast Line Capacity Improvement Project
  • Dawson Highway (Gladstone – Biloela) timber bridge replacement package
  • Rockhampton Road Train Access, Stage 1
  • Kawana and Nicklin Way – Sunshine Coast University Hospital intersection upgrades package
  • Riverway Drive duplication, Townsville (Gollogly Lane – Allambie Lane).

“We are now calling on the Turnbull Government to match our commitment to infrastructure in Queensland on projects like the Ipswich Motorway, the Pacific Motorway and the North Queensland Stadium as well as a funding commitment to Cross River Rail,” the Premier said at the weekend.

The State Infrastructure Fund also allocates up to $20 million to deliver business cases for other priority projects. 

Other key reform measures outlined in the State Infrastructure Plan include:

  • establishing an Infrastructure Cabinet Committee to drive infrastructure coordination and development
  • establishing an Infrastructure Portfolio Office to coordinate and integrate state government infrastructure, land-use and economic planning
  • developing five new strategic infrastructure network plans for Transport, Water, Energy, Digital and Social infrastructure
  • enhancing the government’s ability to fund and finance infrastructure through a focus on value capture and improving alternative funding and financing options in Queensland
  • reviewing fragmented local government infrastructure grants programs to optimise prioritisation; and
  • establishing a joint industry/government Infrastructure Innovation Taskforce, and a Community Infrastructure Reference Group to provide thought leadership through a prioritised program of work.

The release of the State Infrastructure Plan came on the heels of last week’s announcement by the Queensland Government of a $200 million commitment towards the first stage of upgrading the Ipswich Motorway, between Rocklea and Darra.

For more information or to view the State Infrastructure Plan, click here.


NTC proposal promises productivity boost for heavy vehicle combinations

Heavy vehicle operators could increase the payload of certain heavy vehicle combinations by up to 16 per cent on some routes under reforms proposed by the National Transport Commission (NTC) last week.

Chief Executive of the NTC, Paul Retter, says certain heavy vehicle combinations are currently unable to be used to their full payload capacity.

“We’re investigating whether quad-axle group vehicles should be able to use higher mass limits without having to go through the performance based standards (PBS) application and approval process,” Mr Retter said.

“This could unlock significant productivity gains for many transport operators by cutting red tape and reducing fuel use.

“Quad-axle group vehicles have the capability to safely carry up to 12 per cent more payload than the current mass limits allow, but are currently restricted to the same limits as tri-axle heavy vehicles under the law, unless they undertake the performance based standards (PBS) application and approval process.”

The NTC’s preferred option would allow quad axle vehicles to carry increased mass on routes previously assessed as adequate for PBS approved vehicles without having to go through the PBS process. Under this option, a class 3 notice would be developed to allow vehicles with quad-axle groups (primarily used by B-double and semitrailer combinations) to increase mass by 4 tonnes at general mass limits to 24 tonnes, and to operate at 27 tonnes under higher mass limits, without the current need to obtain approval through PBS scheme.

“The PBS scheme was always intended as a platform where we could test innovative vehicle designs, and this would eventually lead to broader use of these vehicle designs outside the scheme. After seven years operating safely under the PBS scheme, it is clear we have enough evidence to take these vehicles to the next stage,” Mr Retter said.

General mass limits determine the maximum weight an axle group or heavy vehicle combination can carry to gain access to the general road network. Higher mass limits are available to operators in a restricted road network under a special permit or notice.

The NTC also proposes that twin steer prime movers towing a semi-trailer be allowed to increase their mass by 4 tonnes to 46.5 tonnes at general mass limits under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, and to operate with a class 3 notice at 49.5 tonnes under higher mass limits. 

The proposed reforms are described in discussion papers,released for public consultation. Feedback is open until April 26. Click here for more information.  


More to be done on Victoria's journey Towards Zero

Victorian motorists are being urged to play their part to reduce the number of lives lost to road trauma following the release of the 2015 Victorian Road Trauma Report – a comprehensive analysis of emerging trends and factors relating to road crashes across the State.

Releasing the report this month, Roads and Road Safety Minister, Luke Donnellan, said the total number of lives lost to road trauma in 2015 was 252, an increase of four people on the year before, and nine more than the lowest road toll in 2013.

He added that so far this year 70 lives have already been lost, 13 more than for the same time last year.

"If this rate continues, Victoria will be looking at one of the worst road tolls in recent years," he said.

This year has already seen vulnerable motorcyclists become over represented in fatalities. Alarmingly, 21 motorcyclists have lost their lives in road crashes since January 1, compared to 30 for all of 2015.

Drivers in regional Victoria continue to be over represented with more than 50 percent of fatalities happening on country roads. Young drivers aged 18-20 are also at an increased risk of dying on the road. Compared to 2014, ten more young drivers lost their lives last year along with seven more young passengers aged 16-17. All but one of the young passengers died in vehicles driven by drivers aged 17-22.

Mr Donnellan said the Government was investing heavily in road safety initiatives including:

  • $146 million for the Young Driver Safety Package;
  • $2.4 million for phase 2 of the Motorcycle GLS,
  • $100 million for the Safer Cyclists and Pedestrian Fund, and
  •  $1 billion over ten years for the Safe System Road Infrastructure Program.

"There is still more work to be done on the journey Towards Zero," the Minister said.

"The 2015 Victorian Road Trauma Report will inform the Government and its road safety partners as well as the broader community on areas that need the greatest focus to achieve our target of fewer than 200 deaths by 2020. Everyone has a role to play to reduce road trauma, and Victorians are being urged to have conversations with their families, their loved ones and their colleagues about how they can help to keep themselves safe on the roads."

Find the report here.  


Grants available now for ITS initiatives

Applications for the Victorian Government’s $4.5 million Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Transport Technology Grants Program are now open.

Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, has invited companies, industry bodies and other organisations to apply for a grant to trial projects that support innovation and the development of transport technologies and products that benefit Victoria and the wider Australian community.

The grants will leverage and explore existing and advanced technologies that have the capabilities to meet current and emerging transport infrastructure demands.

The grants will allow VicRoads to work with industry to develop technologies to help reduce traffic congestion and improve traffic flow, reduce road crashes, improve the integration between transport modes, improve environmental sustainability; and improve traveller information to enable to choice alternative transport modes.

The grants will also allow industry to undertake research and trials and provide an opportunity to showcase new technologies and innovation at the 2016 ITS World Congress to be held in Melbourne in October.

Funded as part of the $13.3 million Smarter Journeys package announced in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, the program will look for trials of technologies that help to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow on the state’s road network.

Applications will close on Friday, 15 April, with successful candidates announced in late-May.  


Natural disasters set to cost Australia $33 billion a year by 2050

The total annual cost of natural disasters in Australia is expected to increase from $9 billion to $33 billion by 2050, according to two new reports.

The reports - The Economic Cost of the Social Impact of Natural Disasters and Building Resilient Infrastructure - have been produced by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities.

Key findings in the Building Resilient Infrastructure report include: 

  • More than $450 million was spent by Australian governments each financial year on restoring essential public infrastructure assets following extreme weather events between 2002-03 and 2010-11. This equates to about 1.6% of total public infrastructure spending.
  • $17 billion (in net present value terms) will need to be spent on the direct replacement costs of essential infrastructure impacted by natural disasters between 2015 and 2050. 
  • Total spending on infrastructure between now and 2050 in Australia is projected to reach approximately $1.1 trillion.

The report provides guidance and a set of principles for government and business to integrate disaster resilience in infrastructure planning, appraisal and approval processes.

The Economic Cost of the Social Impact of Natural Disasters report key findings include:

  • The true cost of natural disasters is at least 50 per cent greater than previously estimated when social costs are incorporated.
  • When both financial and social costs are included, it is estimated the total cost of natural disasters in Australia in 2015 exceeded $9 billion, or 0.6% of GDP.
  • This is expected to double by 2030 and to reach an average of $33 billion per year by 2050.

Speaking on behalf of the Roundtable, IAG Managing Director and CEO, Peter Harmer, said the two new reports revealed that social devastation and the impacts to infrastructure could be the longest lasting and most significant consequences of natural disasters.

“The reports show the long-term cost of the social impact of natural disasters on our communities and economy, and the benefits of embedding resilience into planning decisions for critical infrastructure,” Mr Harmer said.

“We need to do more to help our communities prepare for and recover from disasters. Sadly the devastation of bushfires, flood and earthquakes on our communities can last for years, if not decades.”

For more information, go to the Australian Business Roundtable website.


Policy Chapter News

Members of Roads Australia's Network Reliability and Capacity chapters have provided valuable feedback and support for Austroads' strategic project to establish a harmonised road asset data standard for Australia and New Zealand.

Some 80 Chapter members and stakeholders attended our workshop at RMS' offices in North Sydney on March 2, providing feedback on various aspects around the creation, implementation and evolution of the new standard. 

Austroads has been working on this national metadata harmonisation initiative since 2014, and says it will deliver a range of positive cost benefits around maintenance/investment, as well as internal savings on data collection. The focus of the project is on road management and investment. The object is to identify key data fields for standardisation to support road management and investment functions across a wide range of organisations, including funders, regulators, grants commissions, government agencies, data suppliers, software vendors etc.

Austroads is keen to better understand what is important to public and commercial sector organisations in developing the new standard, the challenges of adoption and how the standard can evolve to best meet business needs - hence the Roads Australia workshop.

Further consultation is scheduled through to May, with a draft standard document due for release in July.   Roads Australia will continue to keep members informed as the project meets its milestones. For more information, contact our Policy Director, Mandi Mees.  


The Outcome Report from last year’s Safety at Road Worksites Forum is now available to Chapter members on the Network Reliability and Capacity Chapter webpages.  (You’ll need to log in with your RA login and password to view and download the report.)  


 Roads Australia was represented at an Infrastructure Victoria workshop held in Ballarat last month as part of the feedback process for the Laying the Foundations discussion paper.

The initial public consultation period closed last Friday. At the Ballarat workshop, Infrastructure Victoria CEO, Michel Masson, detailed the guiding principles and steps forward for setting out the 30 year plan, where citizen juries will play a central role in bringing the community to the heart of the strategy planning process to meet Victoria’s future infrastructure needs.

The most popular themes arising from the workshop included improving the efficiency of freight supply chains through infrastructure and enabling the growth of a highly skilled, digitally connected workforce through infrastructure. Maximising the productive value of agricultural land was also highlighted an essential component for the 30 year plan. 

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