Roads Review: Outlook for the industry in 2022

For our Roads Review column this month, we asked the industry leaders: ‘What are the key trends the roads & infrastructure industry should expect accelerated in 2022?’

 

Michael Caltabiano, CEO, Australian Road Research Board (ARRB)

At ARRB, we believe there will be a true focus on more agnostic transport solutions for our rapidly changing community needs. As we emerge from the pandemic, the community will demand different solutions to their mobility needs and will simply not accept the norms of the past. After almost two years doing things very differently in terms of their daily trips, the community will be actively seeking smarter, more efficient and cost-effective solutions to their travel and mobility needs. This all means the infrastructure we build will have to change to be in line with community expectations. Our transport infrastructure will be required to actively support connected and autonomous vehicles. It will need to be built in a way that creates opportunities for vehicles with zero emission technology to safely utilise the network. We believe big changes are upon us and that is why we have built a new organisation with diverse skills including scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers and software specialists to solve tomorrow’s transport challenges today.

 

Steve Verity, Principal Adviser in Asset Management, IPWEA

The COVID 19 pandemic has led to more people moving to regional areas of the country. Some regional communities are experiencing significant growth, placing greater demand on the road and other infrastructure networks. Often when people relocate to a regional area, they tend to bring higher service expectations. Government leaders will likely experience pressure from the community to improve the services they provide. With increasing demand comes competition for scarce resources. Governments should look to optimise expenditure and incorporate best practice asset management including genuine community engagement.

 

Chris Melham, CEO, Civil Contractors Federation

The growth of collaborative contracting is a key trend the civil construction industry expects continuing, particularly in light of the Federal Government undertaking an inquiry into the procurement of federally funded infrastructure. Under collaborative contract arrangements, all parties share in the successes and failures of delivery. This setup does not create incentive for any participant to shift risk to another. Rather, it promotes effective risk identification and cooperative approaches to overcoming hurdles. CCF believes collaborative contracts must be genuinely considered when the circumstance warrants it. Simple approaches to this include early contractor involvement which engages contractors through the design and planning process to identify risks and advise on possible delivery methods.

 

Peter Kartsidimas, Director – Networks and Planning, Infrastructure Victoria

We expect the shift to smarter, safer and more sophisticated road network management will gather pace next year. Victoria’s current road network operations technology is underperforming, outdated, and manually intensive to control and review. The Victorian Government’s $340 million Smarter Roads program will optimise traffic signal performance in parts of Melbourne. Expanding the program would improve traffic flow for all modes and potentially unlock extra clearways and dedicated lanes for public transport. Real-time detection of public transport and emergency vehicles would enable better coordination of traffic signals, identification of vulnerable users like pedestrians and cyclists, and incident detection to flexibly reroute traffic. You can read Victoria’s 30-year infrastructure strategy on our website: infrastructurevictoria.com.au

 

David Hallett, CEO, IPWEA Victoria

The key trend we expect is an increased interest in more sustainable road construction. Most of the heavy lifting has been done by the supply-side recently but the client-side is providing valuable support by initiating pilot projects to trial new products. Recycled rubber, glass, plastics and aggregate are all finding their way into our roads as materials previously considered to be waste products are now seen as a valuable resource, however innovation isn’t without risk. The challenge for the risk-averse sector is to find ways to share responsibility for product performance, but the returns are significant…not least for our environment.

 

 Emeritus Professor Arun Kumar, RMIT University Melbourne

 The road sector will continue to adopt innovative ways to value capture in design, construction, and maintenance. Contracting will evolve to more of a partnership approach, as both owner and the contractor will work together, leading to efficiency and value for money focused outcomes. Impact of climate change on the road infrastructure such as frequency and intensity of rain, sudden changes in temperature will need focused attention on design and maintenance. Resilience and sustainability including carbon footprint will continue to be an important indicator in overall decision-making.

 

Tony Aloisio, Director, Ecologiq

We expect a greater focus on embedding circular economy principles in design and in whole-of-life considerations for transport projects. More construction materials will be recycled, reused and repurposed than ever, bringing a true ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach to infrastructure. In Victoria, that’s being driven by the state government’s Recycled First Policy, which requires contractors for the first time in Australian history to optimise their use of recycled and reused materials. ​We’re already seeing impressive results out of the first road projects procured under Recycled First, with thousands of tonnes of waste – including plastic, crumb rubber and glass – being transformed into vital road-building materials.

This column initially appeared in the December edition of Roads & Infrastructure magazine. Read the magazine here

If you or anyone in your organisation are interested in contributing to the column, please contact the editor at tara.hamid@primecreative.com.au


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