What is the future of roads asset management?

By intouch posted 07 March 2018 15:19

  

What innovative road maintenance technologies are emerging internationally? How will data change the way we manage roads, and how can we incorporate more environmentally-friendly surfacing solutions into our roads?


This week, IPWEA brought a panel of industry experts together to discuss the future of roads asset management, tackling big issues that have the potential to transform roading outcomes for the community.

AM_roundtable.jpgThe roundtable participants included:

  • Murray Erbs, Chair, NAMS.AU, IPWEA Australasia
  • Nandini Mehta, AUS-SPEC Manager
  • Ross Ioakim, Sector Lead, Local Government and Airports, Infrastructure Services, Downer Group
  • Peter Shields, Technical Services Manager, City of Sydney
  • James Erskine, Senior Pavement Engineer, Pavement Management Services
  • Jacquie Hansen, Civil Engineer, Asset Management Working Group Facilitator
Don’t miss the Future of Roads Asset Management Roundtable in the next IPWEA inspire magazine, available to members in early April.

A regional perspective

With unsealed roads making up about 80% of Australia’s road network, the roundtable recognised the unique challenges facing regional councils and road authorities in change of these vast, hungry assets.

Prior to the roundtable, Jacqui Hansen held a brainstorming session with the Orana Region Councils Asset Management Working Group; a collective of asset management practitioners from the 13 councils in the west and far west of NSW. The following points were the ‘burning issues’ in roads asset management from the perspective of the Orana group:

Data collection
  • Councils are required to collect data every three years, and need practical help to improve their data collection processes. Would it be possible to develop a standard method of data collection that councils could follow?
  • Some councils don’t have data recorded on maintenance costs that is adequate for life cycle decision making. It is aggregated together. There is no industry standard or minimum. Would it be possible to develop guidelines on how road maintenance data should be recorded to inform Council’s decision making?
  • Special Schedule 7 ratios could be refined to make them more useful to council’s decision making.
Lack of standardisation
  • There is a general lack of standardisation across the industry. For instance, still no standard road hierarchy or standard definitions. Even the amongst the Orana Region, there is resistance to adoption of the Regional Roads Hierarchy at some councils.
  • There's a lack of support from councillors and senior management
  • Advice from AM practitioners to councillors and senior management, on needs based renewal is not being heeded. Councillors bow to political pressure, not what is best for the long term sustainability of the road asset. More education required to increase councillors’ understanding.
Sealing unsealed roads 
  • On-going pressure to seal unsealed roads. Sealing unsealed roads is unaffordable in most circumstances. This situation is not helped when a council can receive grants for new assets but no grants are available to maintain existing assets.
  • Is it cost effective to seal an unsealed road? Could a third party organisation, such as IPWEA, compare the life cycle cost of a sealed versus unsealed road? Let’s resolve this issue once and for all. 
External funding
  • External funding for regional roads is stagnant yet costs associated with road renewal and maintenance are increasing. It is very difficult for councils to rehabilitate regional roads as required for long-term sustainability, as external funds are the only source of capital works funding for regional roads.
Staff retention
  • It is very difficult to attract and retain skilled staff in rural and remote areas.
Do you agree with the Orana group’s concerns? If you’re an IPWEA member you can comment below.
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