9.4 Appendix 4: Research and development

Roads and Maritime operates a research and development program that helps identify and develop innovative solutions to achieve business improvements.

The program helps ensure that professional and technical services groups support the core business needs of each division to develop and maintain corporate policy on: infrastructure provision and maintenance; and ensuring continuous, incremental improvement in technologies. Specialist Roads and Maritime employees carry out the work, with some projects conducted in collaboration with universities or outsourced to research groups.

Roads and Maritime invested $10 million in the program in 2015-16. Roads and Maritime also contributes to research and development in conjunction with other agencies to apply new technologies at a national level.


Study of low strength rock materials with the University of New South Wales (UNSW)

The design of cut batters in weak rock is often conservative due to difficulties in sampling and assessing material behaviour. This has resulted in costly cut batter treatments for highway developments, particularly in the Blue Mountains where weak rock occurs near the surface. By collaborating with UNSW, we are working towards developing an alternative rock strength model that industry can use to improve batter design and reduce construction costs. The Geotechnical Science group has provided the UNSW research team with weak rock samples for specialised testing. The weak rock program is now two-thirds complete.

Development of guidelines for acid sulfate rock in earthworks

Research commenced into the study of acid rock issues with earthworks and will continue into the 2016-17 financial year. The development of a technical direction is proceeding and is aimed at providing a better understanding of acid rock and guidance on how this naturally occurring material could be managed on site and in the R44 Earthworks specification.

Support and enhancement of REFRACT Seismic Refraction Software

REFRACT is a software developed by the Geotechnical Science group in Engineering Services to process sub-surface seismic velocities using geophysical techniques. Information obtained from these assessments is primarily used to evaluate rock excavation for road construction. The group is providing ongoing support and development to product users and has engaged a contractor to write a user manual and upgrade the software as necessary.

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