Allan appointment good news for seamless transport infrastructure delivery

Roads Australia has welcomed the Victorian ministry unveiled yesterday by Premier Daniel Andrews.

“The appointment of Jacinta Allan as Minister for Transport Infrastructure is a recognition of the importance of delivering well planned, integrated road and rail solutions,” Roads Australia President, David Stuart-Watt, said.

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Victorian Government quick off the mark with North East Link

As promised, the first order of business this week for the re-elected Andrews Government was to release to market the North East Link early works and primary works packages.

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Survey respondents nervous about safety of driverless vehicles

EastLink’s latest Victorian Self-driving Car Survey has underlined motorists’ concerns about the safety of driverless vehicles, and also raised questions about the fairness of fuel tax.

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Australia well placed to be a role model for flexible cities,

says new report

Australia is ripe for innovation to build smarter and more flexible infrastructure to meet the challenges posed by its growing population, according to a new report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Salini Impregilo.

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Industry appointments

GHD has appointed Mikel Alonso as Market Leader – Transportation in Australia. The appointment follows the relocation of David Kinniburgh to take up a new role as Transportation Market Leader – Northern Hemisphere, based in London. Mikel brings almost 20 years’ technical and leadership experience to the role, including senior positions on a variety of landmark transportation projects across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United Kingdom. This includes five years as a technical advisor to the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority.

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) has announced the reappointment of its current national executive team for 2019. The ACA President, whose term expires at the end of 2019, is Craig Laslett, Managing Director of Lend Lease Engineering and a Director of Roads Australia. Scott Cummins, Chief Executive Officer of McConnell Dowell, and Cathal O’Rourke, Managing Director of Laing O’Rourke Australia, have been re-elected as Vice Presidents for another year.

AECOM has appointed Steve Cooley to the role of Director of Asset Management and Optimisation. Based in Sydney, Steve will be responsible for bringing together local and global AECOM teams to meet the needs of road authorities in the specialist areas of performance-based asset and operational maintenance contracts. Steve has more than 20 years’ experience managing contracts and businesses associated with the first controlled or managed motorway systems developed by Highways England. He is also Deputy Chair of RA’s Journey Reliability Chapter.

Industry news in brief

CPB Contractors and UGL are celebrating the news that they’ve been awarded a $1.376 billion contract to deliver the Line-wide works package on the Sydney Metro City and Southwest project. Works are due to commence this year and are scheduled to conclude in 2024. The joint venture will play a pivotal role in the design, construction and commissioning of major rail systems in the new twin 15km Sydney Metro tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham; the expansion of the existing Sydney Metro Trains Facility at Rouse Hill and delivery of the new Sydney Metro Trains Facility South at Marrickville; and tunnel ventilation, mechanical and electrical systems for seven underground stations, as well as power systems for the Sydenham to Bankstown section. CPB is also part of the consortium delivering the Tunnels and Stations Civil works package on Sydney Metro Northwest.

The first sod was turned last week on the $55 million, 5.5-kilometre Gawler East Link Road (GERL) in South Australia. The project will link Main North Road to the new residential developments in Gawler’s east and will include intersection and road upgrades, as well as a bridge over South Para River. Local contractor Bardavcol is delivering the project for DPTI.

The Federal Government has announced Round Two funding of $21 million for the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, breathing life into 32 projects that aim to increase the productivity and sustainability of Australian cities and towns. Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, says many of the projects will collect valuable, sensor-based data that, once analysed, could mean sharing the projects nationally and internationally.

WA Premier Mark McGowan says commuters travelling from Ellenbrook to Morley will have journey times slashed by half when NorthLink WA opens in 2019. Being delivered by Main Roads WA, NorthLink WA is a 42 kilometre freeway-to-freeway link between Morley and Muchea. It will provide an efficient alternative freight route, taking about 80 per cent of trucks off Great Northern Highway, managing expected traffic growth and freeing up local and tourist roads through the Swan Valley.
Four of the State’s most dangerous intersections will also be eliminated as part of the project, with new interchanges built and progressively opened over coming months.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is calling for permanency of the Federal Bridges Renewal Program to help fix the roughly one in five local timber bridges that are in poor condition. The findings on deteriorating bridge conditions have come out of the 2018 National State of the Assets: Roads and Community Infrastructure Report.

The UK Government has released a two-year action plan to improve the safety of vulnerable road users, with measures including insurance discounts for drivers and motorcyclists who pass bicycle awareness training, the appointment of a cycling and walking champion, and initiatives to encourage mutual respect between road users.

SMEC Australia has been appointed by leading international motor racing circuit designer, UK-based APEX Circuit Design, to assist with design and environmental assessments for a second international race circuit near the iconic Bathurst Racing Circuit at Mount Panorama, in central-western NSW. Project proponent, Bathurst Regional Council, intends to develop a facility that can deliver a larger number of events in a variety of race formats, and that would deliver the accompanying economic benefits to Bathurst and the central west region all year round.

Federal Parliament has this week passed Road Vehicle Standards legislation, described by Deputy PM Michael McCormack as ‘the most important set of changes to the Government’s regulation of road vehicles in almost three decades’. The new laws will streamline the supply of mainstream (full volume) new vehicles; establish a register of approved vehicles – an online, publicly accessible database to assist with compliance and enforcement of national vehicle standards; and provide greater clarity around recall powers and responsibilities for all vehicle classes.

Young Engineers Australia is joining with other professional bodies to host a Christmas get-together in Sydney at Pier One, Walsh Bay, on December 19 (6.30pm). The purpose is to strengthen relationships and share knowledge among the many professional associations across the Built Environment Network.

Austrade is hosting a free webinar on December 11 (2-3pm AEDT) to outline opportunities for Australian companies to partner with Chinese counterparts in third-market infrastructure projects. The speaker is Tony Barry, Vice President of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC).

The NSW Parliament has passed legislation aimed at protecting sub-contractors working in the State’s construction industry. The legislation picks up key recommendations of the national Review of Security of Payment Laws. Under the NSW legislative reforms, head contractors will have 20 business days to pay sub-contractors (instead of 30);  sub-contractors can make a claim at least once a month for completed work, and a final claim if a contract is terminated; and NSW Fair Trading has been given increased compliance and enforcement powers.

Australia’s population is projected to reach 30 million people between 2029 and 2033, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The population projections are based on assumptions of future levels of fertility, life expectancy and migration, which are guided by recent population trends. According to ABS Director of Demography, Anthony Grubb, the projected time for the nation to grow by five million people on current indications will be similar, if not a little shorter, than the 14 years it took to grow from 20 million to 25 million.

Roads Australia continues to grow its membership, with another two organisations joining our fold in recent weeks. The Caravan Industry Association of Australia is the peak national body for the caravanning and camping industry, whose members are key users of road infrastructure across the country. Mott Macdonald is a global engineering, management and development consultancy with a presence in 150 countries, a 40-year history in Australia, and an extensive local transport portfolio.

Transport innovation

People in London and Edinburgh will soon be the first in the UK to experience self-driving vehicle services as part of three new public trials announced this month. The projects will allow the public to ride autonomous buses on a 14-mile route across the Forth Bridge, in Edinburgh, as well as book self-driving taxis to travel around parts of London. The trials support the British Government’s ambition to have self-driving vehicles on roads by 2021.

As Australia heads towards a future of autonomous, low-emission vehicles, two new electrified-road systems developing apace in Europe and the United States are giving our governments plenty to think about. The first – the eRoadArlanda – utilises an electrified slot-rail embedded in the road. An arm from the vehicle drops into the slot and draws electricity. The consortium behind the system completed a two-kilometre section in Sweden earlier this year, and is currently running trials. The second is a catenary system of overhead wires from which trucks can draw electricity, similar to Melbourne trams, but without the need for rails. The system is being developed by Siemens and trials are under way or set for California, Germany, Sweden and Italy.

Hyundai’s first fully electric vehicle has had its first test run on Australian roads in Brisbane this week. Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, attended the national launch of the IONIQ Electric model at Brisbane-based Tritium, a global leader in electric charging technology. Queensland’s 1,800km Electric Vehicle Superhighway, from Coolangatta to Cairns, is powered by super-fast charging stations supplied by Tritium. Meantime, the government will next year be launching a Queensland Hydrogen Strategy.

Five companies have been chosen by Transport for NSW to progress trials in the emerging area of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The five finalists in Transport for NSW’s MaaS Innovation Challenge, which is progressing pitches to the test and learn phase, are rideshare company Uber; Sydney-based data specialists Lynxx; Helsinki-based Maas Global (the company behind the Whim app); local start-up Swiftfare Fleet; and Skedgo, a Sydney-based start-up that developed the Tripgo app.

Diversity and social responsibility

RA  member Acciona is sponsoring Homeward Bound’s upcoming third annual expedition to the Antarctic. The expedition team will comprise 79 female scientists from 35 countries – including 29 from Australia – who will bring their expertise in a wide range of disciplines to advance climate change mitigation research. The Homeward Bound program aims to create a global network of 1,000 female Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) professionals over 10 years.

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