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Welcome to the December 2015 issue of AustroadsNews

This edition introduces our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, provides an overview of our roads data harmonisation project, as well as providing a run-down on our latest publications, and links to upcoming seminars and conferences.

The Austroads Board met in October. The Meeting Communique provides an update on the high priority strategic projects and an overview of the work program.

Austroads national office will be closed from Friday 25 December, reopening on Monday 4 January. Our next newsletter will be distributed in February. We wish all our readers a safe and happy holiday season. 

If you have been forwarded this email you can subscribe here to receive future updates.


Austroads 2016-2020 Strategic Plan: Repositioning for a Sustainable Future

Austroads has released its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan which repositions the peak organisation of Australian and New Zealand road transport agencies for a strong, relevant and sustainable future.

Chief Executive, Nick Koukoulas, says the plan will reshape the way Austroads manages its work program and administers research projects. 

"The work of Austroads is highly respected and we will continue to fund strategic research and embrace collaboration and cooperation to ensure that this continues," Nick said.

"We will continue to maintain the world renowned Austroads Guides and promote a harmonised approach to the design, maintenance and operation of road networks. Knowledge sharing will continue to be our core business."

"However Austroads must design and implement an operational model that is sustainable and meets future needs," Nick said. 

Under the new four-year plan, the Austroads Programs will be consolidated to broaden the portfolio of work undertaken. The new Assets, Safety and Network Programs will be led by a full-time Program Manager. Program Managers will be director or senior executive level staff from member agencies, seconded to Austroads for a temporary contract.

Full-time Program Coordinators will be employed in Austroads National Office to provide administrative support to the Program Manager. 

"Austroads Task Forces will continue to play an essential role," Nick said.

"Task Force membership will continue to be drawn from member agencies. Task Force members will meet two to three times a year to identify research needs and Austroads Guide updates, share project progress, discuss issues and share practices." 

The number of projects Austroads manages each year will be significantly reduced. The projects undertaken will be of larger scale with more significant outcomes.

"Project development and delivery will be more responsive and agile. This will mean that some projects may need to be turned around in less than 12 months and may fall outside the standard project development time-frame. Austroads will develop project management and budgetary processes that allow for this rapid identification and delivery of projects. There will be a greater emphasis on delivering projects on time and on budget," Nick said

Austroads will provide greater transparency in the development and purchasing of research contracts. New contracts, where appropriate, will be open to competitive tender. This will enable Austroads to consistently engage highly skilled teams of specialists who can provide strong value for investment. 

The National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS) is a customer service system owned by Austroads on behalf of the eight Australian states and territories. Its primary purpose is to share vehicle and driver information between jurisdictions. NEVDIS' existing commercial arrangements will be standardised and opportunities to develop products will be pursued to negate the need for future jurisdictional funding.

"We are currently working towards ensuring that the systems are in place to support delivery of the new plan at the beginning of the 2016-17 financial year. Recruitment of the new Program Managers is underway and the Task Forces are developing research work programs to take to the Board in April," Nick said.

The Strategic Plan 2016-2020 outlines Austroads' purpose and role, operating principles, strategic environment, and programs and priorities. It can be downloaded from the Austroads website.


Roads Data Harmonisation Project will Improve Practice and Drive Innovation 

Austroads has commenced a new and ambitious project to establish a harmonised road asset data standard for use in Australia and New Zealand.

Project Manager Angus Draheim said “The project has been initiated in response to requests from stakeholders who increasingly need to share data with other road management agencies but are frustrated by the lack of common data standards.”

“The project will deliver a recommended harmonised road data standard for core road asset management activities and a business case demonstrating the value of adopting the new standard.  Austroads anticipates that once a model standard is provided road management agencies and councils will see the benefit and steadily work towards aligning their systems with it.”

“A business case developed by Austroads in 2014 shows significant benefits and cost savings can be obtained by road management and governance agencies being able to readily share common data between each other. Benefits could include improved understanding of road assets, direct savings to agencies for data management and reporting, consistent and comparable data to support better government decision making and supporting new technology and transport innovation.”

Road managers include national, state and local government agencies which each collect information to inform their asset management strategies and to determine expenditure priorities. The lack of a harmonised road asset data standards means that each road manager collects similar, yet slightly different, information. The minor but consequential differences in road asset data limit the comparability of asset information between road networks, and increases the costs of working across different road networks.

An example of an area where a common data standard is anticipated to be Heavy Vehicle road reform policy development where more reliable and consistent policy is dependent on having reliable and consistent information about the road network across jurisdictions. 

Other types of data to be considered in the project include descriptions and locations of assets, maintenance activities and cost metrics, asset condition and performance and road classification.

Opus International Consultants and GISSA (authors of “A Spec”) have been appointed to deliver the project which will involve extensive research into existing data requirements and current practice.  It will be developed in close consultation with local governments and road agencies in Australia and New Zealand.  The project will take approximately 12 months to complete and the first stage involves gathering and reviewing information.


ITS Activities Roadmap Establishes Shared Vision

Austroads is committed to the delivery of priority areas identified in the Policy Framework for Intelligent Transport Systems in Australia published by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure in 2012.

As part of this commitment, Austroads has released an Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) roadmap that establishes a shared vision of ITS activities to achieve the effective development and deployment of ITS in Australia and New Zealand.

Developed collaboratively by road agencies and ITS-Australia, the roadmap shows collective activities to be led by Austroads to achieve national harmonisation and activities to be progressed by individual road agencies to address local priorities.

ITS involves the application of advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to surface transportation to achieve safety, efficiency and environmental benefits. This includes traffic management systems, traveller information and warning systems, and Cooperative ITS (C-ITS) applications involving vehicle to infrastructure and vehicle to vehicle communications.

ITS has an important role to play in responding to a number of significant challenges including:

  • growth in the freight task
  • road crashes
  • road traffic congestion
  • greenhouse emissions
  • system interoperability
  • mobility and social inclusiveness.

The response to these challenges will require innovative solutions that leverage significant international advances in technology.


NTC Seeks Feedback on Draft Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released the proposed draft Assessing Fitness to Drive (AFTD) guidelines and accompanying consultation report which outlines the proposed changes to the medical standards and guidelines.

The NTC is encouraging feedback from stakeholders on the proposed changes before final recommendations are considered by ministers in the middle of 2016.

AFTD is a joint publication between the NTC and Austroads. It aims to increase road safety by helping health professionals:

  • assess the fitness of their patients to drive
  • promote responsible behaviour in their patients
  • conduct medical examinations for licensing drivers as required by licensing authorities
  • provide information to inform conditional licence decisions.

The draft changes were developed after the NTC released a draft consultation paper in October 2014 and received valuable input from medical practitioners, consumer health organisations, government transport departments, driver licensing authorities, unions, operators and transport industry associations.

The proposed changes include removing the advice inserted in the 2012 edition of AFTD that included reference to the use of glycated haemoglobin levels (HbA1c > 9%) as an indicator for ‘satisfactory control’ of diabetes. The decision to remove this advice was made after assessing the latest medical evidence and by seeking advice from the Diabetes Society, Diabetes Australia and the Diabetes Educators Association, among others.

Other proposed changes generally provide greater flexibility for individual assessment of people with a chronic disease or medical condition without compromising public safety.

A copy of the NTC’s proposed draft Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines and accompanying Consultation Report for the Review of Assessing Fitness to Drive is available from the NTC’s website and submissions can be lodged through the site up to Friday, 8 January 2015.

The NTC will consider these submissions when drafting final recommendations and providing them to the Transport and Infrastructure Council’s next meeting which is expected to be held in middle of 2016.


Roundabouts and Interchange Design Guidance Updated

Austroads has released updated editions of Guide to Road Design Parts 4B and 4C.

Guide to Road Design Part 4B: Roundabouts provides road designers and other practitioners with guidance on the geometric design of roundabouts. It covers principles and procedures enabling practitioners to develop safe and efficient layouts.It also provides information on pedestrian and cyclist treatment at roundabouts, pavement markings, signs and landscaping.

This third edition of the Guide contains new information relating to the extended design domain for vehicle entry path radii. Updates have been made throughout to include new and updated reference material and cross-references added to other Guides, including:

  • Section 1 Introduction: updates to road safety including Safe System, additional information relating to motorcycles; and information on roundabouts in high-speed areas.
  • Section 4 Geometric Design: additional information on entry, circulating and exit lanes; additional information on the central island radius; amended information on approach treatments; additional information on exit curves; additional information of the separation of the roundabout legs.
  • Section 5 Pedestrian and Cyclist Treatments: information on bicycles at roundabouts amended, including deletion of commentary and figures relating to bicycle lanes within roundabouts.
  • Section 6 Pavement Markings and Signing: amended information on the use of spiral linemarking..

The PDF version of Part 4B is $61.60. Hard copies are $77 + postage and handling. 

Guide to Road Design Part 4C: Interchanges  provides guidance on the geometric design of interchanges between: freeways and arterial roads; two freeways; and two major arterial roads.  It covers the geometric design of all the elements of an interchange including the: alignment and cross-section of the freeway in the vicinity of the interchange, the intersecting road and the ramps; merge and diverge ramp terminals at the freeway; and ramp terminals at the intersecting road.

Updates have been made throughout this second edition including:

  • Section 1 Introduction: updates to road safety including the Safe System principles; and additional information on design objectives and staged development.
  • Section 3 Forms of Interchange: additional information on factors that may influence the type of interchange.
  • Section 4 Structures: additional section providing information on safety screens.
  • Section 9 Vertical Alignment: additional information on criteria to be considered for grading at a cross-road.
  • Section 10 Ramp Terminals at Major Roads: amending the longitudinal grade of a minor road to not exceed 2%.
  • Section 11 Ramp Terminals at the Major Road: additional information to expand the range of speeds shown in Table 11.2 and Table 11.3.
  • Section 17 Other Considerations: additional section on oversized and high wide load corridors.

The PDF version of Part 4C is $61.60. Hard copies are $77 + postage and handling.

The new content for both parts was prepared by Peter Aumann from ARRB Group. Mike Whitehead, from Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, coordinated the updates.

Staff from Austroads member agencies can download PDF versions of the Guides for free. This includes all state and territory road agencies and local councils in Australia and New Zealand.

To request your user login and password for free access please send an email from your work email address to


Updated Guidance on Tunnel Design 

Austroads has released the 2015 edition of Guide to Road Tunnels Part 2: Planning, Design and Commissioning.

The Guide discusses all aspects of planning, design and commissioning of road tunnels including structural and geotechnical requirements, fire and life safety, ventilation, lighting, traffic monitoring and control, plant monitoring and control, electrical power supply and the requirements for associated building structures.

It is expected that the Guide will be used by engineers and technical specialists in tunnel technology working on the planning, design and operation of road tunnels, proponents of road tunnel solutions, senior decision makers (in an overview role) and regulators in the various jurisdictions associated with the construction of tunnels.

This second edition of the Guide provides updated material across the areas of design considerations, structural requirements, geometric design, environmental considerations, fans, CCTV and operational readiness.

The new content was prepared by Les Louis from ARRB Group. Mohamed Nooru-Mohamed, from Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, coordinated the update.

The PDF version of the Guide is $79.20 to download. Hard copies are $99 + postage and handling.

Austroads members can download all PDF versions of the Guides for free. This includes all state and territory road agencies and local councils in Australia and New Zealand.

To request your user login and password for free access please send an email from your work email address to


Promoting Safety Management Systems Within Road Agencies  

Safety management systems are an integral aspect of how rail, maritime and aviation safety is managed and improved.

Austroads has released a report promoting the development of safety management systems within road agencies to support the safe management, maintenance and improvement of road networks.

The report contains a Starter’s Guide to implement ISO 39001. The benchmark set by ISO 39001 reinforces the case for a sustained program of work to support the widespread adoption of formal results-focussed safety management systems amongst all agencies responsible for the safe movement of users on their road networks. 

The report includes a summary of survey results of Australian and New Zealand Road Agencies, a gap analysis and ten recommendations on how to address the current gap in understanding of the role of Safety Management Systems for Road Safety.

The survey results overall suggest that there is substantial variance in awareness of ISO 39001 and safety management systems between Australasian road agencies. There is a strong case for raising awareness and promoting the importance of safety management systems across all road agencies.

The recommendations for Austroads and its members focus on raising awareness, setting context, leadership, planning, monitoring, evaluation and improvement of road safety management systems.


Improving the Performance of Safe System Infrastructure

Austroads has released the findings of a three-year study which reviewed the safety performance of signalised intersections, roundabouts and wire rope barriers and provided solutions that were more closely aligned with the Safe System ideal.

Safe System involves careful consideration of interactions between road infrastructure, travel speeds, road users and vehicles.

Road infrastructure is well-aligned with Safe System objectives if it: considers and performs for all relevant road users; is forgiving of road users’ errors; has fail-safe redundancies; and focuses on fatality and serious injury minimisation.

The study found that the leading severe crash factors at signalised intersections were high entry speeds and unfavourable impact angles. The suggested solutions include signalised roundabouts, and horizontal and vertical deflections on entry. A number of supportive treatments were identified such as movement control and management, lower speed limits, and red light/speed cameras.

For roundabouts, the focus was on improving safety performance for cyclists and motorcyclists. The key severe crash factors were related to high speed approach and entry into the roundabout, and included multiple approach and circulating lanes, or lack of effective approach deflection. The proposed Safe System solutions include reduction in approach and entry speeds with tighter geometric design and raised stop lines/platforms. Identified supporting measures included arterial traffic calming, cyclist bypasses and signalising roundabouts.

The report recommends further development of guidance to address the application of optimal wire rope barrier systems for different locations. Consideration of barrier system stiffness appears to be one area for further investigation. 


Review of Motorway Entrance Ramp Acceleration Lengths

Austroads has released a report that investigates whether the ramp acceleration lengths provided in the Austroads Guides are valid for modern Australian vehicles.

A literature review identified the source of the Australian design parameters and compared them to those used in the United States. This was followed by data collection for various vehicle classes at a number of locations in Queensland. A crash history review was also undertaken simultaneously. The key findings include:

  •  The relationship between grade and acceleration rates adopted by drivers is complex; grade appears to have limited influence on acceleration rates adopted by drivers, especially on geometrically constrained ramps.
  • Based on the limited data collected, the grade correction factors provided in the Austroads Guide to Road Design Part 4C: Interchanges do not appear to reflect the capabilities of passenger vehicles on the road network.
  • There are other factors affecting vehicle acceleration at entrance ramps, e.g. horizontal alignment, forward sight distance, visibility to freeway through lanes (design form elements), which may play a more significant role in driver behaviour than vertical alignment.
  • The relationship between ramp length and merge speed appeared to be weak, but there may be an optimal length that would enable safe merging without significantly increasing construction costs.

Further research is required to investigate human factors and design elements that affect acceleration rates and to ascertain whether acceleration rates could be increased, thereby reducing acceleration lengths.


Addressing Accessibility in the Network Operations Planning Framework

Poor access to transport can act as a barrier to people's participation in a range of social, civic and economic activities.

Currently, accessibility by public transport, walking and cycling is poor. While most adults have relatively good access to private transport, a percentage, especially younger and older adults, have limited or no access to a car and have significant accessibility problems.

Freight accessibility also has implications for productivity. Key constraints to freight accessibility include long travel times that do not meet the requirements of delivery-time-sensitive goods, health and safety requirements of driving, poor travel time reliability, local authority curfews and last-mile access, lack of real-time information on severe delays, poor pavement condition that can cause damage to vehicles and goods, safety of driving and availability of rest facilities for drivers.

Austroads' latest report extends the network operation planning framework to address transport accessibility issues.

The extended framework itemises the general principles and steps in developing an accessibility-based network operation plan (NOP).

The framework includes general guidance on accessibility metrics for employment, education, retail and recreation, health and community services, and freight. The framework was applied to the Burwood Heights Activity Centre (in Melbourne) to illustrate how the framework can be applied.

The report recommends that the general principles and key steps of the proposed accessibility-based NOP framework be incorporated in the Guide to Traffic Management. It also recommends that the framework be incorporated in the development of network operation plans, where appropriate.

To facilitate the application of the accessibility-based NOP, the development of a computer software application is recommended. The tool would assist planners to assess travel time and journey LOS gaps.

Report link: Development of the Accessibility-Based Network Operations Planning Framework

Austroads project NS2003: Requirements and Development of a NOP Tool

The SmartRoads tool, developed by VicRoads, has been adopted by a number of jurisdictions as the basis for network operation planning.

As SmartRoads is applied in more varied context and as the application of network operation planning becomes more sophisticated, a need has been identified to develop the next generation tool.

Austroads project NS2003 is an on-going project which will develop the business case and specifications for the next generation NOP tool (including the accessibility framework identified in this report).

Read more about the project and download the current version of the SmartRoads Tool


Improving the Design and Performance of Foamed Bitumen Stabilised Pavements

In July 2012 Austroads commissioned ARRB to conduct research project TT1825 Mix Design and Field Evaluation of Foamed Bitumen Stabilised Pavements.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • improve the Austroads procedures for the structural design of foamed bitumen stabilised materials for new pavements and structural rehabilitation treatments
  • identify distress modes of bitumen stabilised pavements from the trial sites
  • improve and harmonise national mix design procedures for bitumen stabilised materials.

Austroads has released a progress report that summarises the test methods drafted and currently being reviewed within the context of an Austroads mix design process.

In relation to the structural design of foamed bitumen stabilised pavements, in March 2015, trial sections were constructed on the Western Highway in Ballan, Victoria. The report details the construction and early-life monitoring of performance.

The results of other foamed bitumen stabilised sections are also provided, including 18-month performance data for the Newell Highway, Bellata, New South Wales; two-year performance data for the trial section on Calder Freeway, Woodend, Victoria; and the fatigue cracking of Port Wakefield Road, Virginia, South Australia within two years of opening to traffic. In addition, the latest performance data from Kewdale Road and Kwinana Freeway in Perth are described.

Project findings to date are summarised and the proposed tasks for the remaining 18 months of the project are also identified.


Motorcycle Blackspot Program Saves Lives

VicRoads motorcycle blackspot program has resulted in a 31 per cent reduction in the number of bike riders being killed or seriously injured at the locations, a new report has found.

The program involves a number of road treatments including barrier protection, resurfacing, shoulder sealing and hazard removal, and it has also resulted in an overall reduction of 27 per cent in all motorcycle accidents involving an injury.

Funded by the Motorcycle Safety Levy, a total of $32 million has been invested by VicRoads in the projects over the past 12 years and the independent evaluation report it commissioned estimates the economic benefit at $211 million.

VicRoads has targeted funding for the 176 projects at popular motorcycling routes and specific locations in the Melbourne metro area and the country that had a high incidence of accidents.

The country locations include the Great Ocean Road, Great Alpine Road, Mansfield-Whitfield Road, Phillip Island Tourist Road and the Healesville-Kinglake Road.

A particular success of the program is the installation of motorcyclist protective rubber cushions on wire-rope safety barrier posts and rubrails on roadside guard rails that have resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in fatalities and serious injuries at treated locations. 

“VicRoads has focused on roads with a poor motorcycle safety record and we are very pleased that many of the measures have produced real reductions in crashes,” said  Robyn Seymour, Director Vehicle and Road Use Policy at VicRoads. 

“Many of the greatest crash reductions have been achieved on popular motorcycling routes such as the Great Ocean Road. 

 “The long route treatments and loss-of-control treatments have both been successful and the barrier protection measures show particular potential to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. VicRoads is looking at implementing more of them around the state.”

Projects have ranged in cost from $2000 to $1.9 million. This translates to an estimated investment of $80,000 for every life saved.


Infrastructure Benchmarking

Governments have cooperated to produce the first national pilot benchmarking of infrastructure procurement processes and construction costs as recommended by the 2014 Productivity Commission Inquiry into Public Infrastructure and agreed by the Transport and Infrastructure Council on 28 August 2014.

The Infrastructure Benchmarking Report, issued by the Transport and Infrastructure Council, covers the findings of the initial benchmarking and outlines plans for continued and improved future monitoring of infrastructure procurement performance and construction costs.

Analysis of the procurement processes found the majority of the projects in the pilot study sample met most timeliness targets and most qualitative and quantitative performance measures specified by Infrastructure Australia. Project phases involving extensive client-contractor interaction (Interaction, Evaluation and Finalisation) were found to be most time-intensive, exhibited most time variation and had poorest compliance with targets.

The main findings of the cost benchmarking analysis are:

  1.  road class is the most significant factor influencing average project costs – average costs of urban and rural freeways/highways are around $6.0 to $6.5 million per lane kilometre, while lower standard rural arterials average around $3.0 million per lane kilometre
  2. project management costs typically comprise around 7 per cent of total costs while design and investigation costs typically comprise around 5–6 per cent  
  3.  the project sample provides no clear evidence of any time trend in average project costs over the last five years.

The analysis was undertaken by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) for the Infrastructure Working Group of the Transport and Infrastructure Council.


Upcoming Workshops + Conferences

World of Asphalt 2016 
22-25 March 2016, Nashville, Tennessee, United States

NEW 2 Walk and Cycle Conference
6-8 July 2016, Auckland, New Zealand

Sixth International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology
2-5 August 2016, Brisbane, Queensland

2016 Australasian Road Safety Conference 2016 (ARSC2016)
6-8 September 2016, Canberra, ACT

23rd ITS World Congress Melbourne 2016
10-14 October 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

NEW 27th ARRB Conference
16-18 November 2016, Melbourne, Victoria