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Roads Australia Insider - January 20, 2017


Stage 2 Contract awarded for NorthLink WA  

The second of three construction contracts for the $1.12 billion NorthLink WA has recently been awarded to Great Northern Connect (GNC) - a joint venture between BGC Contracting and Laing O'Rourke.  

The $417 million construction contract is for Stage 2 of the project and covers construction of the Central Section of the Swan Valley Bypass between the Reid Highway and Ellenbrook.  

Once completed, NorthLink WA will provide a continuous connection from the Perth Airport area through to Muchea, and together with the Gateway WA and Perth Freight Link projects will be a major part of a high standard freight connection to Fremantle Port.  

Construction is well underway on Stage 1, with Tonkin Highway grade separations scheduled for completion by early 2018. GNC will begin design work on the 17 km link between Benara Road and Maralla Road, and the 4 km section of Reid Highway between Malaga Drive to Altone Road. Construction is expected to start by mid-2017 and scheduled for completion in 2019.  

The Australian Government is contributing $894 million and the WA Government $223 million towards the NorthLink WA project.


World-first hi-tech transport research for Melbourne

The Victorian Government is supporting an ambitious and unique hi-tech Melbourne transport project focused on reducing future congestion and improving road safety as the city’s population approaches seven million.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering will study connected data from vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and infrastructure in a busy five square km test area bounded by Alexandra Parade, Victoria Street, Hoddle Street and Lygon Street.   Thousands of sensors and wireless units fitted to roads, traffic signals and vehicles will generate the connected data.

Results of the world-first National Connected Multimodal Transport Test Bed project will provide an unprecedented insight into how to manage emerging smart Australian transport systems and road networks in a more efficient way. The University of Melbourne project includes a variety of public and private sector partners, including RA member WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Said WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Victorian Client Director for Transport, Tim Gosbell: “Our Integrated Transport Systems (ITS) team is working closely with our partners to develop the test bed, to integrate emerging technologies that will that will help to reduce congestion, improve livability and deliver more sustainable transport outcomes for the local community". 

The test bed pilot is scheduled to be launched in April.


Rising road toll has governments looking for answers

Federal and State governments are searching for answers and promising a raft of measure ranging from increased maintenance spending to tougher fines in the wake of a 7.9 per cent increase in the national road toll in 2016.  

During the 12 months ended December, there were 1,300 road deaths across the country compared to 1205 for the same period in 2015.

The only jurisdictions to record a fall in fatalities in 2016 were South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.  

WA saw the greatest percentage increase during 2016, up 20.6 per cent (from 160 to 193), followed by Victoria (15.9 per cent, from 252 to 292), Tasmania (11.8 per cent, from 34 to 38), NSW (9.7 per cent, from 350 to 384) and Queensland (2.9 per cent, from 243 to 250).  

In response to a horror year on the roads, Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said drivers would see record levels of investment in safe roads infrastructure and road policing in 2017 as the Government's $1.2 billion Towards Zero Action Plan rolled out across the State.  

Blaming speed and fatigues as the main culprits for NSW’s toll, Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the NSW government would consider reviewing fines and penalties as well as promoting safer driving through awareness campaigns.

Queensland Roads and Road Safety Minister, Mark Bailey, said distractions like mobile phones and drink driving would be priorities in 2017.  

“Next month we will ask the community what they think about tougher responses to drink driving through a discussion paper,” he said.

Mr Bailey also said a new Road Safety Action Plan would be released in July.

“This will show Queenslanders exactly what we will be doing over the next two years to make our roads safer,” he said.

With motorcycle riders significantly over-represented in serious casualty crashes in Tasmania, one of the first things the State Government will do under the new Towards Zero Strategy is introduce a new motorcycle training and assessment regime in May 2017, according to Infrastructure Minister, Rene Hidding.

Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Darren Chester, told ABC radio that while improved roads and better driver behaviour were part of the solution, safer vehicles also had to be part of the mix, particularly for young drivers.  

South Australia significantly bucked the trend in 2016, recording its lowest road toll on record at 89 fatalities and the largest reduction in annual fatalities of any State for 2016 (down 12.7 per cent from 102 in 2015).      


Semi-autonomous cars to be trialled on EastLink

The Victorian Government is working with ARRB and La Trobe University to test cars with driver-assistance technology on Melbourne's EastLink motorway as part of an 18-month trial.

The first of its kind research project will assess the use of semi-autonomous cars with safety features such as lane keep assist, auto braking and adaptive cruise control.

The testing will be conducted in traffic on EastLink to assess whether the latest technology is compatible with current infrastructure such as road signs and line markings. The trial will test a wide range of cars fitted with semi-autonomous driver-assistance technology that require the driver’s hands on the wheel and are already being sold in Australia. Recently, a Volvo S90 was the first vehicle to be tested as part of this project.

Following the research, EastLink will work with car manufacturers and VicRoads to ensure that vehicle technology and road infrastructure allows for the safe introduction of hands free driving.  

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