Roads and Maritime has delivered a record infrastructure budget this year as we move towards a peak forecast in 2017. The agency is delivering a significant number of major road transport projects and programs across NSW, including the Pacific Highway upgrade, WestConnex, NorthConnex, Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, Easing Sydney's Congestion and Bridges for the Bush. Major upgrades and improvements are taking place on the Central Coast, Great Western, Newell, New England, Riverina, Silver City and Cobb Highways.
The 17 kilometre Tintenbar to Ewingsdale project, near Byron Bay on the north coast of NSW, is part of the larger Pacific Highway upgrade program. Partially opened to traffic on 18 December 2015 and fully opened in March 2016, the project provides the missing link in the four-lane divided highway between Ballina and the Queensland border.
The upgrade has significantly improved the travel experience for far north coast road users by providing a better highway alignment, improved road safety, uninterrupted highway traffic flow and easy access on and off the highway for local traffic.
The increased speed limit in this section is also reducing travel times for road users. A Regional Traffic Operations Centre manages the operations of the St Helena twin tunnels 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The upgrade has also seen a reduction in the number of traffic incidents in the area. The local Tintenbar fire brigade noted that road incidents during wet weather were a regular occurrence before the upgrade but the fire brigade had not received a single call-out in the six months since the project opened in December 2015.
The flowing alignment, dramatic tunnel entrances and iconic ocean views over Byron Bay make this an enjoyable road to travel.
The $3.1 million upgrade to the Silver City Highway at Shannon's Creek, including a 1.5 kilometre long airstrip to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Broken Hill, was completed in July 2015. The road/airstrip is operational and safe to use 24 hours a day in all weather conditions. It allows residents living on properties in the area who had previously travelled up to two-and-a-half hours to a hospital to receive medical attention faster.
Previously the Royal Flying Doctor Service had to land on unsealed airstrips on isolated properties. The newly sealed stretch of the Silver City Highway provides a safer and more reliable solution.
A major milestone was reached in February 2016, with work starting on the first stage of the highway upgrade at Eurella, as part of a $5.15 million project funded under the Restart NSW Western Freight Productivity Program. The upgrade will seal 10.3 kilometres of highway about 28 kilometres north of Ivanhoe and is expected to be completed in February 2017.
This upgrade will provide significant benefits for road users, helping to improve safety by increasing traction and reducing travel times and wear on vehicles.
Western Sydney's population of three million is expected to grow by 50 per cent by 2031. With Western Sydney being Australia's third largest economy and contributing nearly one third of Sydney's gross regional product, major infrastructure investment that supports regional movement, the expanding economy and sustainable local job creation is paramount.
In response, the Australian and NSW governments are funding the 10 year, $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan (WSIP) to improve road reliability, capacity and connectivity ahead of future traffic demand. WSIP provides 61 kilometres of new and upgraded roads, of which half are now under construction or at tender.
WSIP roads will form the backbone of an enhanced regional network that supports and enables development of the new Western Sydney airport as well as new employment, priority growth and priority land release areas. Each of these plays a critical role in planned and progressive economic and residential growth.
Work is already underway on the new Werrington Arterial Road and the first stages of The Northern Road upgrade and the Bringelly Road upgrade. The remaining sections of The Northern Road upgrade and the new M12 Motorway are being planned.
WSIP includes a $200 million Local Roads Package that supports the region's councils to deliver critical road improvement projects. To date, local councils have received approval for $94.4 million to address specific local transport issues.
WSIP is expected to create around 4,000 direct and indirect jobs. Local business has benefited from more than $23 million worth of contracts awarded to Western Sydney enterprises.
Working hand-in-hand with the federal and NSW planning agencies, Roads and Maritime is improving connections for people and for commerce. By removing barriers to development, we are enhancing the opportunities for economic growth and the liveability of the region.
Barham Bridge is a key community link between Barham and Koondrook that required extensive maintenance. The maintenance was a large scope of work, which posed significant risks to workers from traffic. However closing the bridge would have had a significant effect on the local community and road users.
The community gave clear feedback that they wanted to find ways to do the work without affecting connectivity between the two towns. Several options were examined and it was concluded that installing a temporary bridge located immediately upstream was the best way to minimise disruption to the communities while eliminating the risk of working near traffic.
Without the temporary bridge, the cost to the community associated with additional travel time and delays was estimated at $6 million including:
The cost of the temporary bridge was $2.3 million and demonstrated a net community benefit with the work completed 12 months earlier, resulting in savings of approximately $1 million and eliminating the risk of maintenance workers working near traffic. The savings come from a more efficient work program, reduced safety risks, less traffic control, and significantly less economic cost to the community through less disruption and delays.
In addition to the economic benefits of installing a temporary bridge, the decision to locate the temporary crossing upstream yielded additional benefits, including:
Most importantly, the temporary bridge allowed the community to carry on as usual, minimising economic impacts and maintaining the close connection between the Barham and Koondrook communities.
Roads and Maritime is the Government client for the WestConnex motorway. In this capacity, Roads and Maritime has entered into a contractual arrangement with Sydney Motorway Corporation to design, build, own and operate the motorway on behalf of the NSW Government.
WestConnex is innovatively financed through partnering with the private sector. Under the current arrangements government is contributing just a third of the total value of the project. The NSW Government's contribution includes $1.8 billion from Restart NSW, with the Australian Government providing $1.5 billion in addition to a concessional loan of up to $2 billion. The NSW Government is currently exploring a range of options to fund the third stage of the project, the M4-M5 Link.
The NorthConnex project commenced in 2015 and will deliver twin nine kilometre tunnels linking the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills. Tunnelling commenced in March 2016. This major construction project is progressing to schedule and is due to be completed in 2019.
At Roads and Maritime, safety is our priority and defines every activity we undertake. We will work to reduce the road toll, boating fatalities and workplace occurrences. We will ensure our workplaces and networks are safe and healthy for our customers, workers and industry partners.
Roads and Maritime is implementing the Heavy Vehicle Operator Safety Information Program to improve the exchange of information between Roads and Maritime, drivers and heavy vehicle operators, and to assist heavy vehicle operators to better manage their legislative obligations.
Heavy vehicle operators often employ multiple drivers and the existing online Driver Licence Check system only allowed single driver checks. The system was administratively complex resulting in it being underutilised.
Analysis by the NSW Centre for Road Safety suggests that unauthorised drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal road crashes. To address this risk, road transport legislation including the Road Transport Act 2013 and Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2008 imposes an obligation on employers to ensure that the drivers employed are properly licensed. Properly licensed drivers are critical to enabling safe transport operations.
The changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law to be introduced in 2018 will also impose a general duty on all parties in the supply chain and require broad-based safety management systems to ensure transport operators fully comply with the legislation.
To facilitate increased compliance with regulatory requirements, Phase 1 of the program introduced improvements to the Driver Licence Check system. These improvements allow operators to undertake multiple driver licence and demerit points checks efficiently to determine that all their drivers are properly licensed.
Roads and Maritime worked closely with the Office of the NSW Privacy Commissioner to ensure the design of the system accounted for the privacy principles and complied with privacy legislation.
Phase 1 of the Heavy Vehicle Operators Safety Information Program was released on 4 July 2016.
The Safer Roads Program is an important initiative that aims to reduce the number of casualties on NSW roads and reduce the severity of injuries when a crash does occur. This targeted infrastructure program improves the existing road network by implementing low cost engineering treatments and countermeasures at high-risk locations. It also protects vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.
In 2015-16 a record $66.9 million was allocated to the program and 145 projects were delivered or developed for future delivery. Key projects included:
$1.7 million towards upgrading a 2.9 kilometre section of O'Connell Road north of Oberon
Between July 2008 and June 2013, five crashes involving injuries were recorded at this location due to road users failing to navigate the road correctly. Safety improvements implemented included:
$2.6 million to improve selected curves on Putty Road, Putty
Safety improvements were undertaken on Putty Road, which has a history of motorcycle crashes. Works included widening road shoulders, road resurfacing and improving safety barriers. New signage and line markings were also installed to reduce the risk of crashes at curves.
Safety improvements at Stacey Street and Griffiths Avenue, Bankstown
Between July 2008 and June 2013, 27 right-through crashes occurred at the intersection of Stacey Street and Griffiths Avenue, with 17 crashes resulting in injuries. To combat this problem, the median and right turn bays were closed and traffic was diverted onto an alternate safer route. The intersection of the alternate route at Stacey Street and South Terrace also received safety improvements including linemarking and signage to accommodate for increased traffic volumes from motorists wanting to access Griffiths Avenue.
Stage 1 of the $11 million upgrade of the Riverina Highway, east of Albury
Stage 1, from Sandy Creek to Hume Weir Village, started in October 2015, and involved widening the road, installation of guardrails, providing new and improved signage, improved drainage and a new road surface. Stage 2, from the Hume Weir Village to Bethanga Bridge, is expected to start in late 2016.
Hume Highway and Picton Road intersection traffic lights
In the five years to December 2015, 45 crashes were recorded at this intersection including one fatality and 18 injury crashes. New traffic lights were installed at the interchange in March 2016 to remove confusion about who has right of way.
Roads and Maritime played an integral role in ensuring major events were carried out safely, including:
Roads and Maritime undertook seven statewide safety, education and compliance campaigns under the Operation Boatsafe banner during 2015-16:
There were 11,566 vessel inspections conducted as part of the campaign program, with an additional 5,783 client interactions with Boating Education Officers.
Our role is to evaluate the options available to manage the growing demands for the road and waterway networks and implement solutions to fulfil the needs of our customers. We will engage with customers to understand how to improve the network.
During 2015-16 Roads and Maritime provided $5.9 million to councils and community groups through the Better Boating Program and the Boating Now Program for new and improved boating facilities. Projects completed during the year included:
Roads and Maritime is committed to increasing opportunities available to the public for cycling and walking to create healthy, connected and engaged communities. More than 400 projects were constructed or developed in 2015-16 under the $40 million Active Transport Program. Projects implemented under the program during the year included:
The NSW Grain Harvest Management Scheme (GHMS) and NSW Livestock Loading Scheme were established following consultation with farmers, receivers and local councils to promote safety, improve productivity and protect infrastructure. Both schemes have been very successful with weight and dimension concessions now granted to heavy vehicles transporting agricultural commodities across NSW. Maps showing approved routes are available to all drivers via wireless devices. These initiatives have resulted in fewer vehicle trips, with all vehicle trips now occurring on designated routes. In June 2016 the GHMS was extended for a further five years to 30 June 2021.
Three projects were delivered under the Bus Priority Infrastructure Program, which aims to make bus travel services faster and more reliable. Projects implemented were on Victoria Road at Rydalmere, Wilson Street at Erskineville and Wilson Street at Gladesville. Design work on other projects is continuing.
The Pinch Point program spent more than $59.9 million in 2015-16 in delivering 41 projects and initiatives to address congestion issues and improve the operational efficiency of Sydney's road transport network.
Following the Government's announcement of the reforms to the point-to-point transport sector on 18 December 2015, Roads and Maritime implemented a number of regulatory amendments and streamlined services resulting in improved compliance among rideshare drivers, contributing to the safety of customers and the community:
A strategic priority for Roads and Maritime is to continue to develop as an organisation, to operate in a more efficient and responsive way, and to further develop its employees and systems to add value to the services and major infrastructure projects that the organisation delivers each year.
This program is implementing the transition of Roads and Maritime's customer-facing product and service distribution to Service NSW. Service NSW has been established to provide a one-stop-shop for customers and businesses to interact with all departments and agencies of the NSW Government. As at 30 June 2016, the program successfully:
Country Bridge Solutions is a modular bridge system developed to deliver a simple, economical solution for NSW local government to address the replacement of its ageing timber bridges. Roads and Maritime constructed the first trial bridge at Bookookoorara Creek for Tenterfield Shire Council to test the design and constructability elements of the project. Construction of the three span, 30 metre long, pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete bridge was completed in June 2016.
Roads and Maritime plans to make standard designs and guides for investigation, design, construction and maintenance available to local councils should they wish to consider this as an option to replace their ageing regional bridges.
Litter reduction is one of the NSW Premier's 12 priorities in the NSW State Plan. Roads and Maritime regularly carries out maintenance work including roadside clean-ups during off-peak travel times to reduce the impact on motorists and to ensure the safety of workers. This results in nearly one tonne of rubbish collected each year for every kilometre of the 18,000 kilometre NSW road network.
On 17 June 2016 Roads and Maritime held its inaugural 'Tidy Roads Summit' to initiate and lead a conversation about how government, councils and industry can work together to drive actions that will contribute to the achievement of the Premier's target to reduce the volume of litter by 40 per cent by 2020. The summit identified a series of actions that Roads and Maritime will partner with the Environmental Protection Agency, councils and industry to deliver.
During 2016 Roads and Maritime moved into a new head office at Ennis Road, Milsons Point. The Ennis Road site is located within the road network as part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge precinct. The site was originally a viaduct of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Shortly after the bridge opened in 1932, the viaduct was walled in and a building created. It has served many uses over the decades including as a laboratory for roadwork.
The site was vacant for many years and is now newly refurbished to work as our corporate office, featuring state-of-the-art technology, within a new, more flexible and agile work environment. This new environment focuses on technology as an enabler, supporting a more engaging and collaborative culture, with the physical space facilitating that approach.
Technology is the key. It is simple, wireless and everyone has access to the same technology. There is wi-fi across the building, allowing wireless connections in meeting rooms. This simple, but effective approach is being rolled out across our network, so employees can communicate with other sites using this technology.
By moving into a building already owned by the agency, Roads and Maritime can better utilise our existing space, while also promoting sustainable work practices and meeting the government's commitment for a reduction in Sydney Central Business District leased office space.
Throughout the building, many original features are apparent, including the original blue and clear stained glass windows. The elegant art deco windows are a constant element to all workspaces, accentuated in the design through the white walls and dark grey finish. To the west, the traffic streaming past reminds us of our purpose - we are in our network.
While we have taken the time and care to restore this heritage site, this new facility is also a blueprint for our new approach to working. High quality technology and flexible workspaces provide increased collaboration, supported by on site IT support services.
Roads and Maritime aims to be a high-performing socially and environmentally responsible agency. We have an obligation to deliver infrastructure that is value for money, while minimising our impact on the environment. In 2015-16 we have worked hard to improve the performance of our networks and enhance the economic and social benefits of living in NSW.
The NSW Government provides financial assistance to all councils in NSW for the maintenance of regional roads in recognition of their importance to local communities and businesses. This is carried out through the Regional Road Block Grant program, which Road and Maritime administers. The program is a State contribution towards the maintenance of regional roads, with supplementary funding available for high merit projects from the REPAIR program. Roads and Maritime also administers natural disaster funding on behalf of the Office of Emergency Management to assist councils to restore roads and bridges damaged by declared natural disasters to their pre-disaster condition.
A key commitment under the NSW Road Safety Strategy is to improve Aboriginal road safety through a range of actions that will reduce the risk and severity of crashes faced by Aboriginal people on NSW roads. Under the NSW Aboriginal Road Safety Action Plan 2014-2017 , Roads and Maritime delivers road safety education initiatives to influence behaviour change among Aboriginal people to prevent road crashes and protect themselves, their kin and their community. Some of the initiatives Roads and Maritime conducted during 2015-16 included:
Gerard Dennis was awarded the TAFE Illawarra Transport Student Award and the Nicholas Cowley Prize for Maritime.
Gerard joined the agency as an Aboriginal Maritime Services Trainee in 2014. The two-year traineeship provides employment opportunities for Aboriginal people to gain knowledge, understanding and experience in the boating industry.
The program involves a combination of on the job experience and the completion of Certificates I and II in Transport and Distribution.
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