From the CEO’s Desk

It is difficult to believe that we are now into the final month of 2020 – a year that has been unlike any other and which has required every membership-based organisation to adapt to new ways of engaging with – and delivering for – our members.

Roads Australia is no different in this respect – and our Annual General Meeting in Sydney last Friday was a chance to reflect on an extraordinary 12-month period and look ahead to what we all hope will be better times in 2021.

The RA team and I were determined that RA would emerge from COVID in a strong position; ready to take on the new challenges and build on our strengths.

During the AGM, Michael Bushby was re-elected as RA President for the next 12 months, and we elected our two Vice Presidents – Aneetha de Silva, Managing Director – Government Australia & New Zealand, Aurecon and Scott Olsen, CEO, Fredon.

It is an especially proud moment for RA to welcome Aneetha as our first female Vice President, further underscoring our continuing commitment to building a genuinely diverse and inclusive organisational and industry culture.  Aneetha also becomes Chair of our Transport Reform Policy Stream, and will temporarily remain as caretaker Chair of our Customer Experience Policy Stream, where she will be supported by new Deputy ChairChris Jackson.

Prior to the AGM, Craig Laslettadvised he would be standing down from the RA Board and as Chair of our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee. I would like to extend my thanks to Craig for his service and in particular his efforts as the inaugural Chair of our D&I Committee which have been vital to the progress RA has made in this important area, creating a solid foundation on which new D&I Committee ChairClare Gardiner-Barnes will build.

Following the AGM, RA President Michael Bushby provided an overview that included the full membership of the 2021 RA Board.

The AGM also saw the release of the Roads Australia Annual Review 2020, which clearly demonstrates that despite the year’s unprecedented events, RA has maintained a high level of activity and policy engagement.

Perhaps most significantly, our net membership has remained steady throughout the year. This is a powerful endorsement of RA’s ability to reach, inform and engage on the issues that matter most to this industry, especially when faced with a challenge as difficult and unprecedented as COVID-19.

As CEO, I am enormously proud of the way the RA team has responded to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and exceptionally grateful to the RA Board and members for their continued support and involvement over the past year.

Of course, it’s been fantastic to be able to once again catch up with members in some states and territories as travel restrictions have eased for our series of RA Annual Lunches, which have now been held in Canberra, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, – with Darwin, Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne scheduled to follow over the coming two weeks.

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RA is also continuing its very busy program of online events for members right up until the end of the year.

Next week will see us host a further International Insights webinar exploring the role of hydrogen in our pubic transport system, a policy webinar on suggested improvements in utilities management and an Emerging Leaders webinar that will focus on re-engaging and developing your organisation’s emerging talent post-COVID.

I encourage you to participate in these events as our industry continues to think about the opportunities ahead in 2021.

Stay safe and well.

Michael Kilgariff

Proposals sought for Coomera Connector

Construction companies are being invited to put forward proposals for Stage 1 of the $1.5 billion Coomera Connector, the Gold Coast’s largest road project.

The Federal and Queensland Governments have advised the 16km project will be delivered via three separate construction packages to maximise opportunities for local contractors. This will also permit sections of the project to be opened more quickly, as they are completed over the next four years.

Construction on the Coomera Connector is anticipated to begin in mid-2021.

Further details on the full project can be found here.

Infrastructure at forefront of Victorian Budget

A $10 billion investment in transport infrastructure was at the heart of the Victorian State Budget announced last week. Projects supported by the Budget included the new Melbourne Airport Rail Link, the Suburban Rail Loop and Geelong Fast Rai, as well as $450 million for a ‘road maintenance blitz’ that will support works on suburban and regional roads.

RA also acknowledged the Budget’s balanced approach to the development of a sustainable framework for road user charges for electric vehicles (EVs) by providing $25 million to accelerate the adoption of EVs, while also recognising governments have an obligation to maintain a sufficient revenue base to support road infrastructure for the whole community.

Read what RA had to say about the Victorian State Budget here.

NSW steps up roll out of electric buses

The NSW Government will build on its trial of electric buses by adding 50 vehicles to the fleet over the next year. This follows the successful trial of five electric buses in Sydney’s inner-west over the past 18 months.

The move comes as part of the NSW Government’s objective to transition NSW’s state-wide bus fleet of 8,000 vehicles to zero emissions technology by 2030. The first of the new vehicles are expected to be operating on the network in the first quarter of 2021.

View more details here.

EastLink’s sustainability credentials win global recognition

The internationally recognised GRESB Infrastructure Assessment has awarded Melbourne’s EastLink its top 5 Star rating for the fifth successive year.

In a global context, this places EastLink 27th globally out of the 406 infrastructure assets of all types assessed by GRESB. In the motorways (operations and maintenance) category, EastLink was ranked second in the world for its sustainability performance.

The achievement was confirmed as part of EastLink’s Sustainability Report released his week, which you can view here.

People

The Centre for Pavement Engineering Education (CPEE) has announced that Madeleine McManus OAM will become its new CEO. Previously Director of Industry Engagement with Monash University, Madeleine has extensive, high level experience in the wider engineering sector including infrastructure, roads, construction, transport (multi modal and autonomous), research and professional education, together with experience in building successful and profitable business-related partnerships and organisations. Long serving CPEE CEORay Farrelly OAMis taking on a new role as CPEE Executive Manager: Professional Development, allowing a desired 3 day week engagement from January 2021.

The current Deputy Secretary, Greater Sydney, at Transport for NSW (TfNSW), Elizabeth Mildwater, has been announced as the new Chief Executive of the Greater Sydney Commission, and will commence in the role in January 2021. Prior to joining TfNSW four years ago, Ms Mildwater was Director of Australian Programs for Save the Children Australia, Group General Manager, Victoria for Transurban Group and held legal counsel roles with several energy industry corporations.

The Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) in South Australia has appointed Rebecca Pickering as its new CEO.  She was previously the CCF’s Director Apprenticeships in SA and comes to the role with significant experience in the construction sector and industry associations, include working with the Master Builders Association.

SmartCrete CRC has announced the appointment of four new directors to it Board to drive its strategic direction and growth – Dr Gunilla Burrowes, Catherine Ferrari, Elizabeth Whitelaw and Peter Williamson. Full details including biographies for the new appointees can be viewed here

Policy

Our latest RA Policy Insights piece examining the next steps needed to progress procurement reform is now available, summarising the major issues, ideas and solutions canvassed during our recent policy webinar. The piece provides an overview of each speaker’s contribution during the webinar discussion, addressing a comprehensive suite of issues including pipeline visibility, early industry engagement, the benefits of collaborative contracting, inclusive procurement to enhance industry diversity, the importance of industry mentoring opportunities and the need to enhance the industry’s skills base in the digital and technology space. You can download your copy here.

Don’t forget to register for our upcoming International Insights Webinar next Tuesday 8 December that will examine the application of hydrogen fuel cell technology in our transport system. The session will explore the role hydrogen will play in the electrification of buses – specifically, whether hydrogen fuel cell buses will be embraced in Australia. We will also address the importance of looking beyond just tailpipe emissions and using renewables to generate green hydrogen to achieve low / zero emissions. See more details here.

You can also join us next Wednesday 9 December for an RA Policy Webinar being held in collaboration with Infrastructure NSW (which will also include speakers from Sydney Metro and Transport for NSW) to hear updates on suggested improvements in utilities management on major infrastructure projects in line with  the NSW Government’s 10 Point Commitment. Further details on that session can be found here.

Industry

The NSW Government has welcomed the commencement of trials for motorists on the state’s first smart motorway. The M4 Smart Motorway will use ramp signals and overhead gantries to improve traffic flow and provide a smoother and safer experience for motorists that involves less stop-start traffic and sudden braking in congested areas. When fully operational, journey times along the M4 between Penrith and Parramatta are expected to be reduced by up to 15 minutes in the morning peak. The trial runs until 13 December, and if successful, the M4 Smart Motorway will be fully activated in late 2020.

The Victorian Government is expediting the removal of the Union Road level crossing removal in Surrey Hills, along with the nearby level crossing at Mont Albert. The accelerated works form part of the state’s post-COVID economic stimulus strategy and will see an average of one level crossing removed every four weeks in 2021.

Still in Victoria, the State Government has also confirmed that as of 1 December, all clearways within 20km of the CBD have become tow-away zones as part of continued efforts to reduce congestion. The change recognises increased pressure on Melbourne’s road network over recent weeks, as people are initially more likely to drive than catch public transport as coronavirus restrictions ease.

In Queensland, this week’s State Budget confirmed continued investments to progress a number of significant transport infrastructure projects. Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said the next four years would witness completion of the Gympie Bypass, the $480 million Bruce Highway upgrade between Edmonton and Gordonvale and close to $2 billion in upgrades to the M1. Works are also slated to commence on major projects such as the Coomera Connector, continued construction of the Cross River Rail and the further extension of the Gold Coast light rail. See more details here.

In South Australia, the State Government says the final section of its North-South Corridor project will ultimately save freight operators around $8.80 per trip along the 10.5km stretch, as well as helping to reduce congestion and improve safety for all motorists. The Torrens to Darlington (T2D) section will be the SA’s biggest infrastructure project to date. It will see a combination of tunnels, lowered and ground-level motorways, as well as overpasses / underpasses at key intersections used to permit motorists to bypass 21 sets of traffic lights when travelling between the River Torrens and Darlington, and reduce travel time by 24 minutes.

This week the National Transport Commission (NTC) released updated Guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia, which will ensure they remain fit for purpose as automated vehicle trials progress across the country. The guidelines, a joint publication of the NTC and Austroads, were first published in 2017. Since then, trials of automated vehicles have taken place in every Australian state and territory. Trialling organisations and governments have found the guidelines a useful tool as they develop trial applications and operate trials.

Research excellence in the roads and transport industry has been recognised and celebrated at the 2020 National Transport Research Awards. The awards ceremony, hosted by the Australian Road Research Board, was held as a virtual event on Thursday, November 19.  Awards were presented across in five categories, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. The full event can be viewed online here.

Hatch has announced that RobertsDay has joined its group of companies, combining RobertsDay’s front-end spatial planning, urban design and placemaking capability with Hatch’s expertise in development strategy, economic analysis, infrastructure master planning, engineering, implementation and program management. “The challenges that our clients face in designing, delivering, and managing urban environments increases in size and complexity every day’” said Hatch’s Chairman and CEO John Bianchini. “The integration of Hatch and RobertsDay sets us up to take the lead on these challenges and create positive change for clients and communities worldwide.”  Hatch has also announced its acquisition of transportation engineering consulting firm LTK.

Redflex has acquired RoadMetric Ltd’s brand and intellectual property, including advanced machine vision analytics software and leading-edge artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The announcement aligns with Redflex’s core values of saving lives, saving time and saving the environment, and particularly with the goals of Vision Zero; the global effort to reduce motor vehicle crashes, and ultimately eliminate fatalities altogether. Further details can be seen here.

TSA has confirmed South Australian project management consultancy ProManage is joining its group, TSA Management CEO, Andrew Wilson, said: “TSA is thrilled to have joined forces with ProManage. It’s a win for our clients and our staff as we leverage each other’s strengths and open up new opportunities. ProManage’s knowledge of the South Australian market will be invaluable as we grow together.” You can learn more here.

Three previous winners of RA’s John Shaw Medal and Ray Fisher Award for Technical Excellence – Max Lay, John Metcalf and Kieran Sharp have combined their experience and insights to author a book on the international history of road pavements, titled ‘Paving Our Ways’, which has now been published in the UK.  The book will appeal to those interested in road paving, and in the history of engineering and transport, and can also serve as a text for courses in engineering history. See further details on the book here.

Don’t forget to submit your entry for the 2021 Australian Construction Achievement Award. The Award is the most prestigious award for any professional affiliated with the Australian infrastructure and construction industry. Submitting an entry provides you with the opportunity to showcase the skills and innovation of your organisation or project team. Previous winners are recognised as leading organisations with award winning projects and receive endorsement from the Australian Constructors Association and Engineers Australia. Download an entry form here.

Transport innovation

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has built a proof-of-concept using machine learning technology from Microsoft to identify potentially dangerous traffic intersections and fast-track works to improve safety. The technology analysed telematic data collected from 50 vehicles travelling on Wollongong’s roads over a 10-month period. The data was able to be used to identify five previously unknown blackspots, with the two highest risk now scheduled to receive upgrades later this financial year. The innovation builds on other work TfNSW is undertaking to use machine learning technology to predict delays across the public transport network and, more recently, to automatically detect suspicious and violent incidents on CCTV footage from Sydney’s trains. You can learn more here.

Diversity and social responsibility

The Roads Australia Emerging Leaders PPP Award provides an individual who shows Promise, Passion and Pursuit the opportunity to engage in a 12-month industry exposure and ambassador experience to fast track their career growth and industry profile. We are proud to announce that the 2020 Emerging Leaders PPP Award Winner is Rezarta Rushitaj, Senior Engineer – Highways Transport, Civil Infrastructure, at AECOM.

Rezarta’s strong technical experience is matched by a passion for enhancing our industry’s gender and cultural diversity. Coming from a non-English speaking background, Rezarta has drawn on her own experiences to support initiatives that shape a more inclusive industry. This includes serving on Engineers Australia’s Women in Engineering Committee, being an ambassador for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s ‘women’s work | men’s work’ campaign, volunteering for Engineers Without Borders and promoting engineering as a career of choice by speaking to school students, presenting at forums and supporting early career professionals through AECOM’s Graduate Mentoring Program.

We look forward to the promise, passion and pursuit that Rezarta will bring as an ambassador for RA’s Emerging Leaders over the next year and continuing to support a more diverse and inclusive industry.

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In our last edition of RA Insider, you read about our 2020 RA Fellows presenting their research projects as part of our End of Year Induction, Presentations and Dinner on 19 November. In 2020, each of our six teams was tasked with developing an implementable plan to address primary intervention for white collar workers to improve mental health in order to improve the health and sustainability of our workforce. You can now view the research projects prepared by all six groups of Fellows, including Group 1 (NSW) who were announced as the winner for 2020.

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Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of our next RA Emerging Leaders webinar on Thursday 10 December, will take a closer look at the impacts COVID has had on the development and engagement of emerging professionals, without the usual access and exposure they have to senior leaders while in the office. Building Your Profile: Re-engaging and developing your emerging talent post COVID will discuss how leaders can foster young talent while working remotely, and how emerging leaders can continue build their own profile in the new environment.  We will be joined by two senior leaders in industry, Scott Nield, General Manager Transportation – Australia, Stantec and Julia Ward, CEO, Ward Civil & Environmental Engineering, who will share their passion and tips for building the leadership capability of their future leaders.

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Remember, if you have any D&I success stories or practices that you would like to share with readers of RA Insider, please get in touch with Marlie Curtis.

Upcoming RA events

Dec 7 – (By Invitation) RA Single Table Lunch with Sue Johnson (Brisbane)

Dec 8 – RA International Insights Webinar – hydrogen fuel cell technology. Sponsored by Advisian – Book now

Dec 9 – RA Hobart Annual Lunch with Minister for Infrastructure & Transport Michael Ferguson. Sponsored by pitt&sherry – Book now

Dec 9 – RA Darwin Annual Lunch with Minister Eva Lawler. Sponsored by Territoria Civil – Book now

Dec 9 – RA Policy webinar – utilities management on major infrastructure projects – Book now

Dec 10 – RA Emerging Leaders webinar – Building Your Profile – Book now

Dec 15 – RA Adelaide Annual Lunch with Minister Corey Wingard Sponsored by Aurecon. Last seats remaining – Book now

Dec 16 – RA Melbourne Annual Lunch with Treasurer Tim Pallas – Bookings open soon

June 16-18 2021 – RA Transport Summit, Sydney. Bookings now open.

June 17 2021 – John Shaw Dinner, Sydney. Bookings now open.

For any queries on RA events, please contact RA Director Events – Rachael Rooney

Upcoming industry events and training

Dec 7 – Aurecon Future of Transport Webinar – Digital strategy for real-time, user-centric outcomes