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Roads Australia Insider - April 10, 2017


West Gate Tunnel announcement good news for motorists and freight industry

Last week’s confirmation of the design and successful tenderer for the West Gate Tunnel project is welcome news for Melbournians and Victoria’s freight industry.

The much anticipated announcement confirmed the John Holland - CPB Contractors consortium - which includes lead designers, Jacobs and Aurecon - as the successful tenderer.

The project includes the following features:

  • widening the West Gate Freeway from eight lanes to 12 between the M80 Ring Road and Williamstown Road;
  • building a 2.8km eastbound tunnel and a 4km westbound tunnel under Yarraville;
  • constructing a bridge over the Maribyrnong River providing an alternative to the West Gate Bridge;
  • constructing an elevated road along Footscray Road to the Port of Melbourne; and
  • major new cycling and pedestrian paths. 

“We congratulate the Victorian Government, its partner Transurban and the successful consortium on reaching this significant milestone,” Roads Australia Chief Executive, Ian Webb, said last week.

“It’s taken an enormous amount of work and commitment by all parties to get to this point, but it will be worth it. 

“Not only will this project further cement Melbourne’s international reputation as a liveable city, it will showcase the role smart road technology can play in reducing congestion, improving safety and maximising the efficiency of our urban road networks.”  


Melbourne Metro early works ramp up as final bids are in

The final bids for the six billion dollar Tunnel and Stations Public Private Partnership (PPP) have been received and are now being assessed by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority.

The contract for the PPP is expected to be awarded by the end of the year, in time for construction on the Tunnels and Stations package to begin in 2018.

The bids are from three shortlisted consortia that include some of the biggest construction firms in Australia and around the world:

  • Continuum Victoria – comprising ACCIONA Infrastructure, Ferrovial Agroman, Honeywell, Downer EDI and Plenary Origination
  • Cross Yarra Partnership – comprising Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital
  • Moving Melbourne Together – comprising Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors, Ghella, Salini Impregilo, Serco and Macquarie Capital

At the same time, early works on the $10.9 billion mega-project have received formal planning approval, and will ramp up over the coming months.

Piling rigs are now on site at Franklin and A’Beckett streets and from today construction crews will begin piling works to reinforce the walls of the 35 metre-deep shaft where the new underground station will be built. Early work will also ramp up at City Square over the coming months to build another underground station, which will have a direct connection to Flinders Street Station, the City Loop and the rest of the train network.  


US, UK policymakers meet with RA delegation on CAV policy

Roads Australia’s international delegation has held high-level briefings with senior government officials in the US and UK on the regulatory pathways being pursued for connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).

In Pittsburgh last Monday, our delegation met with a local team of senior policy makers, led by Pennsylvania Department of Transport Secretary, Leslie S. Richards, and including representatives from Utah DoT, AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials) and the National Operations Center of Excellence.

The US participants provided a briefing on the evolving regulatory environment for CAVs and how local policymakers were working across state boundaries to ensure uniformity of the regulatory frameworks.

While in Pittsburg our delegation also had the opportunity to visit Uber's Advanced Technologies Center (ATC), where the company's Director of Public Policy and Communications, Jason Post, provided a briefing on the Uber vision for autonomous ride-sharing. Our delegates also had the opportunity to inspect Uber’s Volvo XC90 autonomous vehicle.

At nearby Carnegie Mellon University campus, they inspected the University Transportation Center’s (UTC) test facilities for urban driving. The UTC explores cutting-edge technologies that influence everything from the safety of vehicles and roads to the analysis of traffic flow.

Earlier in the week our delegation had briefings with both Lyft and Google. Lyft believes private car ownership will end in US cities by 2025, giving way to a future of shared, electric, automated vehicles. The ride-sharing giant is involved in a long-term strategic alliance with General Motors to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the US.

According to Lyft, while a car is the second highest expense for a typical American household, it's used only four per cent of the time.  This, coupled with the attraction of on-demand, pay-as-you-use automated transportation, drives the logic that private vehicle ownership is on the way out.

Our delegation also witnessed first-hand a demonstration of Google's driverless technology via a visit to its X research facility, the home of the Waymo driverless project.

For Google and the X team behind Waymo, the project is a solution to the worldwide road safety challenge because it removes human error - the cause of 94 per cent of accidents - from the driving equation.

Waymo creates a precise map of its surrounding and when travelling the same road again compares the original image with the live image. So far, X has self-driven the car over two million miles on real roads and one billion miles in simulation.

Today the delegation flies to Stockholm from London, where on Thursday RA member Arup hosted a roundtable meeting and dinner with senior representatives from the UK Department of Transport, local government and industry involved in the CAV roll-out. While in the UK, the delegation has also visited UK Autodrive test facility in Milton Keynes - the largest of three separate consortia that are currently trialing automated vehicle technology as part of a government-backed competition to support the introduction of self-driving vehicles into the UK.

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