Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

In Brief

Welcome to the first edition of AustroadsNews for 2015. We hope you've returned from your summer break well rested and looking forward to tackling the challenges of the year ahead.

This edition AustroadsNews has a run-down on our latest publications, a report on our international activities, and upcoming seminars and conferences.

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

New Guidelines to Better Manage Freight Access in Industrial Areas

Well designed and managed industrial areas can help drive regional economic growth and provide employment opportunities for local populations.

Today Austroads released guidelines designed to help councils plan and assess road freight access to industrial areas, including ensuring that infrastructure provided by developers is adequate to meet access needs for many years.

Many councils, particularly in rapidly growing communities, are eager to attract the development of new industrial areas. Other older industrial areas are being reinvigorated in response to modern business needs.

The guidelines aim to help all participants understand the needs and challenges associated with developing road freight road access and circulation in industrial areas. They should allow councils and developers to work together to facilitate industrial developments and ensure that the costs of developments are recognised and managed fairly.

National Guidelines for Transport System Management Draft Stage 1 Content Released

The National Guidelines for Transport Systems Management in Australia (NGTSM) were last published in 2006. A project is underway to revise the Guidelines to bring them up-to-date to ensure ongoing best practice. 

The new Guidelines will absorb the Austroads Guide to Road Transport Planning and Guide to Project Evaluation to strengthen and consolidate guidance for practitioners in this important area of economic infrastructure development.

The revised content will be released in two stages. The draft first stage content was released Monday 22 December 2014, for stakeholder feedback.

The Stage 1 content can be accessed via the website ngtsmguidelines.com

Submissions are due by Monday 9 February 2015.

Feedback must be in writing to NGTSM2014@infrastructure.gov.au

Environmental Costs of Road Projects Reassessed

Austroads has released an update to the parameter values used to estimate environmental costs in the economic evaluation of Australian road projects.

The methods used to update environmental costs had become outdated and central agencies have increasingly demanded that accurate costs be included in the evaluation of road infrastructure and transport projects.

This update of values uses a new method and drew on new data sources to derive the estimates.

The revised methodology is the result of a two year project that included an extensive literature review and an in-depth assessment of seven international and Australian studies.

The changes in methods and data sources have reduced the estimated values compared with those previously published by Austroads. This is examined in detail in Appendix E of the report. Reasons for the reduction are different for each category of values but influences include new regulations and improved technology that have reduced emissions.

While it is acknowledged that there are many avenues for further research, the updated values are an important part of a process to develop more knowledge and use of externality estimates in project evaluation.

The report will inform the provision of environmental parameter values in the revision of the National Guidelines for Transport System Management.

Bringing Consistency and Transparency to the Assessment of Road Network Devices

In 2012-13 the Austroads Network Program initiated a two year project to develop a nationally consistent assessment process for road network devices.

The development of an agreed product acceptance process and the future development of a nationally accessible register will enable road agencies to accept products that have been assessed against the agreed process by another road agencies, delivering a harmonised national approach to the assessment of ITS field devices and improved efficiency for road agencies.

A report documenting the development of an assessment process was published in early 2015.

It is envisaged that the six step process will be conducted by road agencies and cover:

  1. determination of performance requirements based on agreed key performance indicators
  2. preliminary product assessment
  3. desktop audit
  4. laboratory test
  5. field evaluation
  6. reporting.

Both current and emerging technologies could be assessed using the process.

Speed and vehicle detectors, flood detectors, electronic signs, ITS field/roadside cabinets and uninterruptible power supplies have been identified for high priority assessment.

The Network Taskforce will now determine how the process will be implemented.

Climate Change an International Challenge for Transport Agencies

As climate change adverse impacts increase, there will be a growing need for transport agencies to adapt their infrastructure and services. Coastal roads and bridges may need to be elevated. New design features to cope with increased coastal storm intensity will likely need to be developed. Drainage capacity will have to be enlarged to address heavy downpours and reduce flooding. New heat-resistant materials and equipment will need to be put in place as the number of extreme temperature days are predicted to increase.

Design standards of road facilities will need to be modified to adapt to changes in external forces and conditions caused by climate change. Although the changes are different from area to area, the issues are common and include:

  • road runoff drainage facilities and stability of earthworks, especially cutting/embankment slopes, due to a change in design rainfall
  • flood-prone locations of road network due to changes in rainfall, sea water level and/or storm surges
  • durability of surface courses of pavement due to high temperatures
  • full or partial closure of road sections susceptible to possible high winds
  • vegetation management within road areas.

Dr Helen Murphy from VicRoads represents Austroads on the World Road Association's Technical Committee on Climate Change and Sustainability.

Read Helen's report from the last Committee meeting for details of the group's current and future work program.

The World Road Association is an international road organisation with 118 member governments and some 2,500 road experts. Both Australia and New Zealand are full country members.

Study to Validate Roughness Profiler Inconclusive

Laser profilometers are high precision instruments used by road agencies to assess pavement roughness, one of the main parameters of road condition assessment.

Roughness, which can impact traffic flow, fuel consumption and vehicle wear, is characterised by the International Roughness Index (IRI). This is an internationally recognised value of ride comfort and is measured by calculating the response of a quarter car model to the longitudinal profile of the road section travelled.

The traditional method for validating a roughness profiler has been to compare its roughness metric, usually the IRI (m/km), against that measured by a reference device, such as a Walking Profiler. This is achieved through a least squares regression and is the basis of the validation method documented by Austroads.

This type of validation has generally proved to be adequate. However some road agencies have noted significant changes in roughness levels across their networks when different contractors were engaged to undertake roughness surveys. This occurred despite the contractor meeting the requirements of the existing validation criteria.

To address this problem, Hans Prem developed the profiler gain validation technique which assesses how a profiler amplifies, or attenuates, specific wavelengths in a road profile across all IRI wavebands, especially in those of greatest sensitivity.  Prem’s method was included in the data collection contracts of several road agencies, but had only limited success, particularly on pavements with high values of texture.

The Austroads Asset Management Program contracted ARRB to assess the profiler gain validation technique as an alternative method for validating laser profilers.  In addition, the study sought to quantify the influence of roughness and texture on the validation technique and identify a suitable reference profiler against which other profilers could be assessed.

A series of field tests were undertaken where a Walking Profiler was used as the reference device as a comparison to laser profilers in measuring IRI roughness over five test sites with varying roughness and texture.

These field tests did not conclusively confirm the profiler gain validation technique. Both laser profilers failed to meet the specified gain limits at most of the sites.

The field tests suggest that the profiler gain validation technique should be conducted under a standard test speed for the profiler which can be maintained and allows repeatable tracking of the profiler to minimise variation in the auto-spectral density plots. The test speed should be 60 km/h in urban areas and 80 km/h in rural areas.

At this stage a suitable reference profiler against which other profilers are assessed has not been identified because of the inconclusive outcome of the field tests.

Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

ARRB Webinar: Cycling Facilities and the Austroads Guides
12 February 2015, Online (No charge, registration required) 

ARRB Webinar: Implementing the French High Modulus Asphalt (EME2) in Australia
5 March 2015, Online (No charge, registration required)

Traffic Management Association of Australia Annual Conference “Future Directions in Traffic Management”
27 March 2015, Adelaide, South Australia

International Road Federation and Roads Australia Regional Conference 
"Innovating for the Future"
4-7 May 2015, Sydney, NSW

Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress 2015
13-16 September 2015, Brisbane, Queensland

XXVth World Road Congress
2-6 November 2015, Seoul, Korea