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Appendix 4: Research and development

We have a multidisciplinary research and development technology program to provide innovative strategy and solutions for the delivery of infrastructure projects.

Our Technical and Project Services Division leads the projects for the organisation. Each year highly specialised technical staff complete a program of research and development work in collaboration with universities and industry partners. The program ensures a continuous injection of technical innovation and enhanced project improvements to support infrastructure development and maintenance work.

Some of the projects undertaken in 2016‑17 were:

Bridge concrete durability initiatives

We conduct ongoing monitoring of concrete repair methods and durability condition assessment of bridges by applying new systems and technologies to attain the expected bridge service life. Some of the methods identified, developed and utilised include:

  • trialling the installation of sacrificial cathodic protection systems on bridges in a marine environment in regional NSW to control the corrosion of steel in concrete thereby extending the expected service life
  • verification of corrosion rate measurement using Connectionless Electrical Pulse Response Analysis (CEPRA) technology was completed. This technique enables the corrosion rate of steel in concrete structures to be directly measured and provide important information in identifying suitable repair options
  • trialling the passive re-alkalisation product was successfully completed at a culvert in Western Region, NSW. This technique restores alkalinity (pH) in the concrete mix thereby protecting it from corrosion and achieving the expected asset life
  • trialling the high-workability concrete was completed and a new annexure is being drafted for next release of Roads and Maritime Services QA Specification B80 ‘Concrete for Bridgeworks' (RMS QA B80).This will provide a better alternative concrete for deep foundations resulting in a quality product that meets the asset design life.

State-wide Laboratory Improvement Program

This program involves the assessment of primary testing laboratories and other laboratories, which provide road construction materials testing services to the agency. The program assesses the laboratories' abilities to perform test method T166 (relative compaction of road construction materials) and includes test method T162 (compaction control test). We prepared and distributed samples of road construction materials to 30 laboratories, including our in-house laboratories that provide the testing service. The program's primary intent is to review the results of 30 different laboratories testing the same material to the same standards (T162 and T166 - wet density determination) to assess laboratory variability.

Support and enhancement of REFRACT seismic refraction software

REFRACT is a software developed by the Geotechnical Science group to process sub-surface seismic velocities to identify the structure and faults in rocks. Information obtained from these assessments is primarily used to evaluate rock excavation for road construction and reduce contractor costs.

Study of low strength rock materials

This study was undertaken in collaboration with the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The design of cut batters in weak rock in order to retain steep roadside slopes is often conservative due to difficulties in sampling and assessing material behaviour. This has resulted in extensive cut batter treatments for highway developments, particularly in the Blue Mountains where weak rock occurs near the surface. Collaborating with UNSW, we are developing an alternative rock strength model that industry can use to improve batter design and reduce construction costs. Our Geotechnical Science group has provided the UNSW research team with weak rock samples for specialised testing.

Development of guidelines for acid sulphate rock in earthworks

Research into the study of acid rock issues with earthworks and production of an acid rock risk map has been produced to support a technical direction. This research will be completed in 2017‑18 and will greatly assist in the environmental management on Roads and Maritime work sites, as when acidic soil is disturbed or exposed to the air, acid can be released damaging built structures and impacting flora and fauna.

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