Infrastructure Priority List casts welcome spotlight on road maintenance and resilience challenges, says RA

Infrastructure Australia released its updated Infrastructure Priority List this week, with Roads Australia welcoming a renewed focus on road maintenance and resilience.
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Register your interest for RA’s 2020 Study Visit

Building on the success of the European leg of our 2017 international study visit, RA will again lead a delegation this September to learn about the latest developments in safety, efficiency and mobility in the UK and the Continent.
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Cross River Rail Minister Kate Jones says more than 200 companies across South East Queensland have so far secured Cross River Rail contracts, with hundreds more sub-contractor opportunities still up for grabs. Ms Jones says another wave of contracts related to the tunnels and stations works package will be released by CPB Contractors in coming weeks, with a dedicated webpage now live for companies to register their interest.

The first section of Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel is now complete, with a tunnel boring machine (TBM) having broken through this week to complete the link from Arden Station to the tunnel’s western entrance in Kensington. Since its launch in August 2019, TBM Joan (named after former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner) has travelled 1.2 kilometres and installed 4,200 curved concrete segments to create 700 rings lining the walls of the tunnel. The second TBM, Meg (named after Australian women’s cricket captain Meg Lanning) is travelling on a parallel route to carve out the second tunnel from Arden to Kensington and will break through in coming weeks.

Across the other side of the country, a significant tunnelling milestone has also been reached on the METRONET Forrestfield-Airport Link project, with TBM Grace breaking through the Bayswater dive structure, marking the end of her eight-kilometre journey. Grace set off in July 2017 from Forrestfield to Bayswater, building one of two tunnels that will house the $1.86 billion project’s rail lines. Half of the 54,000 locally fabricated concrete segments – used to form the walls of the twin tunnels – were installed during Grace’s journey, with her route taking her under Perth Airport and the Swan River.

Downer EDI has been confirmed as the preferred proponent to deliver the road component of the Denny Avenue METRONET level crossing removal project. Downer was also named last December as the preferred proponent to deliver the rail component of the project, which will see the existing crossing replaced by a rail-over-road underpass at the nearby Davis Road. The scope of works for the road package includes realigning Third Avenue, sinking Davis Road under the elevated rail line, new cul-de-sacs for Third and Slee avenues, and works on Albany Highway.

Still in WA, tenders have been called for phase one of the project to extend Stephenson Avenue from Scarborough Beach Road up to Sarich Court in Osborne Park. The Stephenson Avenue Extension project will be delivered in stages, with the first phase managed by the City of Stirling. It features two lanes in each direction with traffic signalised intersections, new local road connections to Ellen Stirling Boulevard at Oswald Street and Howe Street, on-street parking, pedestrian and cycling facilities, as well as streetscaping.

WA Transport Miister Rita Saffioti has announced a new Local Capability Fund round to encourage and support South-West businesses to tender for work on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road project. Small to medium-sized businesses can apply for up to $20,000 each to help them tender for work on the $852 million project. The Minister says the grants can be used to meet essential pre-qualification requirements for supply-chain entry, buy and upgrade essential equipment, and engage consultants for a range of expertise, including occupational health and safety, marketing and finance.

Early work has begun this month on two of Melbourne’s busiest freeways, with geotechnical drilling underway on the Sydney Road to Edgars Road section of the M80 Ring Road and the second stage of the Monash Freeway Upgrade. The $518 million upgrade between Sydney and Edgars roads is the fifth section to be improved as part of the M80 upgrade, with major construction expected to get underway mid year and be completed by early 2023. Major construction on stage two of the $1.4 billion Monash Freeway upgrade begins next month, and is expected to be finished in 2022.

The Victorian Government has announced the formation of a Rail Freight Working Group to look at ways to boost the capacity of the State’s rail freight sector. The working group will bring together members of the freight and primary industries, as well as government agencies, to focus on Victoria’s rail freight network priorities.

Drivers have had their first taste of the jointly-funded $400 million Ipswich Motorway upgrade, with a major traffic switch now complete. More than 85,000 daily motorists have shifted onto raised, wider lanes, making way for the old westbound bridges to be demolished. Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says the project has now reached its half-way mark. Stage One involves upgrading the Motorway from four to six lanes between Granard Road, Rocklea and east of Oxley Road Interchange.

Upgrades to Tasmania’s Bass Highway between Wynyard and Marrawah are a step closer, with the release last week of the State Government’s long-term strategy, outlining new overtaking lanes, junction upgrades and safety improvements. The Australian and Tasmanian governments have committed $100 million to upgrade this section of the Bass Highway, with construction of key projects identified in the strategy to start later this year.

Austroads has published a policy and regulatory framework designed to reduce drink driving and guide the implementation of future drink driving countermeasures. The framework in the report was developed after consultation with all jurisdictions and draws on effective countermeasures they already have in place. Drink driving is involved in about 18 per cent of all road fatalities nationally, resulting in more than 200 deaths a year and thousands of serious injuries.

Transport innovation

The Federal Government’s Australian Energy Market Commission says Australia needs a forward-thinking plan to get its energy system ‘market ready’ for an electric vehicle future. In an issues paper released this month, the Commission says planning ahead for the boost in energy usage will ensure EVs have a positive impact on the energy market. The paper cites public charging stations as one example of how electric vehicles can have a large impact on the grid. One charging station built in Adelaide in 2017 with eight chargers was equivalent to the connection of 100 new homes.

SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll says local communities have embraced on-demand bus service trials in Mount Barker and the Barossa. Mount Barker is seeing over 1,000 trips per week – four times the initial target – with passengers rating the service 4.8 out of 5. The data also shows there is an average wait time of only 10.1 minutes, with passengers only having to walk an average of 101 metres to catch the service. The Barossa trial is seeing steady growth week-on-week, with 165 trips in the last week (double the average for the existing Dial a Ride service) and passengers rating the service 4.92 out of 5.

More Canberrans than ever before are choosing to use public transport as their preferred way to get around the city, with more than 514,000 boardings recorded last week – the highest week of public transport use on record since the introduction of the MyWay electronic ticketing system in 2011. ACT Minister for Transport Chris Steel says the results reflect the benefits of 10 rapid routes (including light rail) running frequently and late at night, seven days a week.

Diversity and social responsibility

To mark International Women’s Day next Wednesday, RA is hosting a ‘by invitation’ roundtable – the aim of which is to gather insights from some our biggest diversity advocates to inform the next revision of our D&I strategy. There will be a particular focus on leading gender diversity at a Board level, and what we can do to better promote female leaders across the industry. Leading the discussion will be RA Board members Aneetha de Silva, Managing Director – Government for Aurecon, and Clare Gardiner-Barnes, Head of Strategy, Planning and Innovation at Infrastructure NSW. They’ll be joined by another of our Board members – Craig Laslett, Executive Director of Lendlease and Chair of our D&I Committee – and Deputy Chair, Katriina Tahka, CEO of A Human Agency.

RA member Civilex has aligned itself with Aboriginal-owned and operated, Victorian-based civil contractor Wamarra. Civilex is providing support and resources to help the newly launched business establish meaningful employment pathways for indigenous Australians. Wamarra is a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘to build’, and under the leadership of MD and proud Wiradjuri man Hayden Heta, the company has set itself some ambitious goals over the next 12 months, including employing 20 Aboriginal people and delivering tailored training and development programs for upskilling. Civilex MD Joe Bartolo says a vital component of his company’s success is in bringing people together who share a common vision and who want to take purposeful action. “Our partnership with Wamarra is just that – providing real opportunities for Aboriginal people together,” Joe says.

Cardno has recently launched an employee-led LGBTQI+ resource group called Voice to enable employees from the LGBTQI+ community to connect with each other. Cardno says Voice will advance the understanding and inclusion of LGBTQI+ employees through awareness, information, support, networking opportunities and by collaborating with university groups and other external LGBTQI+ professional organisations.

Laing O’Rourke Australia’s Managing Director Cathal O’Rourke has welcomed the announcement this month that the business has been awarded the prestigious Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation. It’s the first time Laing O’Rourke has received the citation, which is one of only two handed out across the construction industry this year. Laing O’Rourke has implemented a number of processes, polices and initiatives aimed at ensuring gender equality across the organisation, including pay parity across all like-for-like roles, a commitment to continue to lessen the organisational wide pay gap by five per cent per year by increasing the number of women in senior roles, and a paid parental leave policy providing both male and female employees with access to 26 weeks of paid leave.

Upcoming RA events

Feb 28 – Industry lunch with MRPV CEO Allen Garner, Melbourne. Proudly sponsored by Arcadis.
Mar 4 – Industry lunch – 2020 Transport Oration with Transurban CEO Scott Charlton, Sydney. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
Mar 5 – By invitation. Procurement Reform Workshop, Melbourne.
Mar 6 – Industry lunch with TMR Director-General Neil Scales, Brisbane. Proudly sponsored by Aurecon.
Mar 11Young Professionals event, Brisbane. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
Mar 12RA Fellows multi-state roundtable with Guy Templeton. Proudly sponsored by John Holland.
Mar 18Young Professionals breakfast, Melbourne. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
Mar 20 – Industry lunch with DPTI Chief Executive Tony Braxton-Smith, Adelaide.
May 14-15 – RA Transport Summit, Sydney. Proudly sponsored by Cardno, Altus Traffic and SMEC.
May 14John Shaw Award Dinner, Sydney. Proudly sponsored by WSP.

Upcoming industry events

Mar 3 – CPEE AustPADS Mechanistic Pavement Design Workshop, Melbourne.
May 19 – CPEE AustPADS Mechanistic Pavement Design Workshop, Brisbane.
June 4 – CPEE AustPADS Mechanistic Pavement Design Workshop, Sydney.
Aug 26-24Local Government Professionals Australia national conference, Twin Waters, Qld.
Sept 1 – CPEE AustPADS Mechanistic Pavement Design Workshop, Perth.