Roads deliver $207 billion boon to Australian economy
Australia’s road industry contributes nearly $207 billion of value to the economy each year and supports almost 1.3 million jobs, according to new analysis released by Roads Australia (RA).
The numbers are drawn from a research paper, prepared by BIS Oxford Economics and commissioned by RA, that puts a dollar value on the benefits – both economic and social - derived from roads in the context of Australia’s integrated transport system.
At more than 877,000 kilometres in length, Australia’s national road network is one of the longest in the world.
“As a community, we take our roads for granted. In fact, we tend to blame them for a lot of the problems associated with urban growth,” RA CEO Michael Kilgariff said in Melbourne today.
“The reality is roads not only play a key role in supporting the public transport task - providing shared infrastructure solutions for bus, tram and light rail modes - but they provide the critical ‘first and last mile’ connections for the movement of people, goods and services across Australia.”
Mr Kilgariff said one dollar out of every $25 generated in the economy spun out of the roads industry. And when the broader freight logistics industry was factored in, that figure doubled.
The BIS Oxford Economics paper indicates these benefits will continue to flow over the next decade, pointing to a road infrastructure pipeline worth $22.7 billion over the years to 2022/23 and $25.4 billion over the following five years. This roads boom will provide much needed stimulus to an economy currently beset by low business investment and sluggish consumer spending, it adds.
Mr Kilgariff said the ‘road vs rail’ debate of past decades was no longer relevant in 2019, given Australia’s projected population growth.
“The reality is we need both, working together as one, integrated transport infrastructure solution,” he said.
“In fact, RA argues there is an urgent need to significantly increase our spending on mass transit systems to do the heavy lifting in our major cities – not at the expense of current road funding, but in addition to,” he said.
“Our investment in roads - including essential road maintenance - will continue to pay dividends in the future, particularly as we see the development and roll-out of driverless bus and rapid transit technology and - of course - autonomous vehicles.”
More level crossings to go in Melbourne
The Victorian Government has awarded contracts to remove five level crossings on the Frankston line and the Clyde Road crossing on the Pakenham line.
The latest contracts take the tally of contracts awarded across Melbourne to 50, with 30 of the 75 level crossings earmarked by the Government for removal now gone.
The $744 million contract for work at Edithvale, Chelsea and Bonbeach has been awarded to an alliance of Lendlease, Acciona Coleman Rail, WSP and Metro Trains Melbourne – with major work to start next year.
The Frankston line will be lowered, removing level crossings at Edithvale Road in Edithvale, Station Street in Bonbeach, and Argyle Avenue, Chelsea Road and Swanpool Avenue in Chelsea.
New, safe, accessible stations will be built at Edithvale, Chelsea and Bonbeach, and will reflect the coastal look and feel of the area – delivering on feedback from community consultation on the design of the stations. Thames Promenade will be extended to the Nepean Highway at Chelsea – improving traffic along this stretch of highway.
Meantime, an alliance comprising Fulton Hogan and Metro Trains Melbourne has been awarded the $166 million contract to remove the Clyde Road level crossing in Berwick by lowering the road under the Pakenham line – boosting safety and reducing congestion for the 22,000 drivers who use the crossing every day.
The Government is investing $3 billion to improve the Frankston line, with the new Carrum Station to open in mid-February and major works starting in Cheltenham and Mentone.
New Guide will improve safety of road workers and users
Austroads has released a new 10-Part Guide to Temporary Traffic Management (AGTTM) to improve the safety and efficiency of temporary traffic management on road worksites across Australia and New Zealand.
It is estimated that around 250,000 people and more than 800 companies provide temporary traffic management services in Australia alone.
Temporary traffic management creates safe work areas for construction, maintenance and other activities which occur on or near a road. It is most commonly achieved through use of traffic control devices which include signs, traffic signals, pavement markings, traffic islands, or other devices installed with the approval of a road agency.
Austroads’ Chief Executive, Nick Koukoulas, says the Guide is the culmination of a four-year collaborative project between Austroads, Australasian transport agencies and industry that aims to improve the both the safety of people working on our roads and all road users.
“Temporary traffic management is a high-risk activity and the Guide encourages consistent planning and streamlined safe work practices. It applies to all works on roads and near roads, in addition to off road development and other activities that impact on road operations,” Nick said.
In addition to improving the safety of workers, the Guide seeks to improve consistency and safety for all road users including protecting vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorcycle riders.
Specialised planning and design guidance is provided for static worksites, mobile worksites and short term low impact worksites.
“This Guide is a valuable first step in improving the safety of road workers and users across urban and rural areas and various road types from motorways to unsealed roads,” says Nick. “Although local conditions and circumstances may sometimes require unique or innovative approaches, most works can be well accommodated by the approaches outlined in the AGTTM.”
“In addition to the Guide, Austroads will continue its efforts to develop improved training for the design and implementation of temporary traffic management, a national company pre-qualification scheme and a training registration scheme for individual professionals in the temporary traffic management industry,” Nick said.
Standards Australia are also publishing today an updated AS 1742.3 Manual of uniform traffic control devices Part 3: Traffic control for works on roads.
SA Government turns up tunnel investigation for final piece of North-South Corridor
The SA Government is engaging tunnelling experts and establishing a specialised infrastructure unit to further investigate options for the final 10.5-kilometre stretch of the North-South Corridor. The River Torrens to Darlington section will be the biggest infrastructure project in South Australia’s history and underpin thousands of jobs for the next decade, the Government says.
Last year the Government announced that tunnelling formed part of two of the three solutions being assessed.
After receiving the initial business case, and on advice from Infrastructure SA, the Government says it will now:
- establish a Program Management Office (PMO) within DPTI to ensure appropriate governance is in place for the planning and delivery of a project of this scale;
- engage a team of planning, technical and tunnelling experts to undertake geotechnical and hydrogeology investigation works;
- conduct heritage and environmental impact studies; and,
- conduct further investigations with service authorities to map services.
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll says the State and Federal governments already have $5.4 billion on the table to complete the final piece of the North-South Corridor puzzle, including $252 million over the next four years for planning and early works.
“The initial business case, in conjunction with advice from Infrastructure SA, has now prompted us to undertake more planning and geotechnical work to further assess tunnelling," he said today.
“Governments have a responsibility to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and that’s why we are taking the time to gather the necessary information before deciding how to spend billions of taxpayer dollars."
SMEC, WSP and Tunnelling Solutions will map out the test locations, depths, sampling and testing requirements to progress the planning of the options.
This work will inform a tender call for companies next year to undertake the investigation work for more detailed planning to progress any of the three options.
In addition, a PMO will be established early next year ensuring appropriate governance for the planning and delivery of the project. Interim arrangements will be in place until a Program Director is appointment early next year.