Department of Transport and Main Roads: Bruce Highway Upgrade (Cooroy to Curra) Section A (Cooroy southern interchange to Sankeys Road)

|May 19|magazine42 min read

The Department of Transport and Main Roads moves and connects people, places, goods and services safely, efficiently and effectively across Queensland. We plan, manage and deliver Queensland’s integrated transport environment to achieve sustainable transport solutions for road, rail, air and sea.

 

Our integrated transport planning approach ensures we contribute to:

•             People’s quality of life

•             Queensland’s economic well-being

•             A sustainable environment.

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All Queenslanders, irrespective of where they live and work, can expect to have appropriate transport choices and fair access to the transport system. The Department of Transport and Main Roads is well underway with construction of a $590 million project to upgrade the Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Federal. This forms part of the overall Bruce Highway upgrade between Cooroy and Curra, and is the second section to be constructed for this project (Section A). Section B, between Federal and Traveston, was completed in December 2012. The Section A project was fast-tracked by the Australian and Queensland governments in December 2012 under a 50/50 funding arrangement to ensure the Bruce Highway remained a priority for the state. The project will deliver a new 13.5 kilometre, four-lane divided highway between the existing interchange south of Cooroy, and the new section of highway near Sankeys Road in Federal.

 

Section A will be undertaken as three construction contracts: Contract 1B – Black Mountain Range Road: realignment of an 800m section of Black Mountain Range Road and construction of a new overpass to maintain the connection to the existing highway. Contractor, Hazell Bros Group Pty Ltd, commenced work in July 2013 and finished this contract in April 2014. The contract was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

 

•             Over 100,000 cubic metres of earth was moved, 73 bridge girders Black Mt. Earthworks placed, and 1050 cubic metres of concrete poured for Contract 1B.

•             Hazell Bros employed around 280 people directly and indirectly throughout the life of Contract 1B.

•             The new Black Mountain Range Road and overpass was opened to traffic on 24 March 2014 ahead of the scheduled mid-year completion date.

 

Contract 2 – Highway upgrade between Cudgerie Drive and Sankeys Road: construction of just over 7km of new four-lane highway, a new all- movements interchange north of Cooroy and new bridges over Skyring Creek and Gardners Road. Contractor, Bielby Holdings Pty Ltd, started on this contract in November 2013 with work expected to be finished by mid- 2016, weather permitting.

 

•             Approximately 3 million cubic metres of earth will be shifted as part of Contract 2.

•             At the end of May 2014, around one million cubic metres of earth had been moved for Contract 2

•             On average, Bielby is currently moving over 17,800 cubic metres of earth per day.

•             Bielby expects to employ around 400 people directly and indirectly throughout the life of Contract 2.

•             Around 700,000 cubic metres of hard rock is expected to be blasted for Contract 2. Blasting will continue intermittently until late 2014, weather permitting.

•             Nine piles have been driven, around 500 cubic metres of concrete poured for pile/pad footings, and 16 columns built for the new Cooroy northern interchange. Work is currently focused on constructing the highway approaches to the interchange, with some big activities ahead including laying 14 large bridge girders totaling over 560 tonnes, and pouring 400 cubic metres of concrete for the bridge deck.

 

Contract 3 – Highway upgrade between the Cooroy southern interchange and Cudgerie Drive: construction of 6.5km of new northbound highway lanes to duplicate the existing Cooroy bypass, rehabilitation of the existing highway to make the southbound lanes, upgrade of the existing Cooroy southern interchange and new bridges over Six Mile Creek. This contract was awarded to Lend Lease Engineering Pty Ltd in April 2014, and is expected to be finished in late 2016, weather permitting.

 

•             Over 600,000 cubic metres of earth will be shifted as part of Contract 3.

•             Around 200,000 tonnes of asphalt will be laid for Contract 3.

•             Over 150 metres of bridge material will be used at the Cooroy southern interchange and Six Mile Creek as part of Contract 3.

•             It is expected that Lend Lease will employ around 350 people directly and indirectly throughout the life of Contract 3.

 

South-east Queensland is the fastest growing metropolitan region in Australia. Residential and industrial expansion is pushing north along the Bruce Highway corridor, with the Cooroy to Curra section of highway the northern gateway of this growth hub. That is why it has been vital for the department to deliver the Section A project as a matter of priority.

 

The Section A project will:

•             Separate north/southbound and highway/ local traffic.

•             Provide sufficient capacity for future traffic growth.

•             Provide a limited access road to reduce crash rates and fatalities.

•             Reduce travel times and improve traffic efficiency for passenger and freight transport.

•             Create an environment attractive for users and improve roadside amenity and facilities.

•             Meet performance standards for the national road network.

•             Minimise future maintenance and operational costs.

•             Address community concerns regarding the separation of highway and local traffic, and safe access to facilities and services.

•             Manage environmental, cultural heritage and social impacts.

 

Key project considerations include:

•             Protecting rare and threatened fauna and flora species including the Giant Barred Frog, Mary River Cod and Hairy Hazelwood.

•             Protecting environmentally-sensitive areas such as creeks adjacent to the project; and obtaining permits for clearing work and working in waterways.

•             Undertaking major earthworks in long and large hills and valleys, and highly expansive clays.

 •            Conducting major construction work in a high rainfall area which is subject to long periods of wet weather and flooding.

•             Considering social impacts, particularly in relation to the location of the new Cooroy northern interchange and the close proximity of project work to the Cooroy township.

•             Promoting a ‘zero-harm’ safety culture even before construction commenced.

•             Balancing the impacts on highway traffic and local traffic flows while constructing the project in a timely manner.

 

All three Section A contracts are being delivered as ‘construct-only’ or ‘hard-dollar’ contracts. The department’s key priorities when assessing tenders was to ensure value-for-money would be achieved and the final product would be of a high standard. The department has also engaged consultancy firm, GHD Pty Ltd, as the Contract Administrator to assist with the management of the Section A project. Once completed in late 2016, the project will benefit the community by meeting capacity and efficiency demands for long-term road freight and transport needs. It will also support safe, high-speed travel, separate the northbound and southbound highway lanes, and improve access to regional townships. It is anticipated that travel times between the Cooroy southern interchange and Sankeys Road will be reduced by approximately two minutes following project completion. This is in addition to the five minute time-saving experienced by the motorists using the new four-lane section of highway between Sankeys Road and Traveston Road (Section B). The Section A project will also stimulate the local economy by generating around 1000 jobs directly and indirectly throughout its duration.

 

Continuous Improvement: Surveys of external stakeholders will be undertaken mid and post project to evaluate the effectiveness of community engagement program during the Section A project. This will allow the project team to adjust their communication methods to suit project stakeholder needs and continuously improve relationships.

 

Internally, relationship management workshops and meetings will be held between the department, Contract Administrator and contractors on a monthly basis. This will allow the project team to work together to identify and address issues in a timely manner, contributing to the successful completion of the project.

 

In addition, during the development phase of the project, the department conducted a series of reviews with senior management and technical officers to encourage innovation and cost savings. Outcomes of these reviews were included in the final design. This review process continues to ensure the latest specifications, innovations and standards are incorporated into the construction program, and the benefits of the project are realised.

 

Project Leadership Groups have been established for the two major Section A construction contracts (Contracts 2 and 3). Monthly meetings provide the team with a forum to pre-empt and discuss issues that may arise during the construction period which may impact upon time, cost and quality. The Project Leadership Groups:

•             Provide leadership and governance of the project.

•             Provide guidance on project issues.

•             Review the need for changes to project objectives and relationship principles (as required). An independent Issues Resolution Advisor has also been appointed to each group to assist and facilitate the timely and equitable resolution of any issues and maintain relationships between all parties.

 

People Management: There is a number of departmental staff working on the Section A project from a variety of disciplines. Key roles include the:

•             Regional Leadership Team, consisting of senior managers, who meets on a monthly basis to provide a high-level review of construction progress.

•             Project Manager who overviews the day-to-day operations for the entire project.

•             Design Manager who ensures design elements are complied with.

•             Contracts and Procurement Manager who issues documents and contracts.

•             Construction Manager who represents the department on-site to pre-empt and resolve issues and manage the differing stakeholder interfaces. Other departmental representatives on the project include environmental, survey, communication, finance, property, safety and project support staff.

 

Supply Chain: The department has a register of companies who supply critical construction equipment. This register is managed by a centralised group within the department to ensure the delivery of quality products.

 

Every sub-contractor who supplies a service over $50,000 on the Section A project needs to be approved by the Contract Administrator/ department. This process is necessary so the appointed contractor completes all of their assigned work tasks, and most qualified sub- contractors are engaged.

 

Technology / Innovations: The department is committed to encouraging and adopting innovation that provides value-for-money, while retaining similar (or better) specified outcomes with regard to safety, performance and durability.

 

On the Section A project, innovation meetings were held with contractors prior to the award of Contract 2 to discuss how design elements could be changed to enable an efficient construction process. An Early Tender Involvement (ETI) approach was also adopted during the tender process for Contract 3. This allowed the tenderers to provide input into the project’s design before it was finalised.

 

Competitive Opportunities: It is a very competitive market with a wide variety of contractors vying for departmental projects. The industry is responding well to these challenges by presenting innovative opportunities for cost savings during tender processes.

 

There has been ongoing engagement and consultation with the wider community, local government, key stakeholders and businesses throughout the Section A project.

 

A planning option was identified for Section A and presented at public displays in 2008. As a result of community feedback and further detailed planning, this option was refined.

 

Initially, the Cooroy northern interchange was located near Cudgerie Drive to provide convenient access to the new highway for nearby communities. However following community feedback and further investigations into potential social impacts, the interchange location was changed to halfway between Cudgerie Drive and Black Mountain Range Road. This location minimises impacts on nearby communities while still allowing for an efficient, high-capacity interchange that links in well with local roads and is convenient for road users to access.

 

The recommended option for the Section A project, including the new Cooroy northern interchange location, was displayed to the public in November 2011. This was met with positive feedback and minor changes were then made to the design to create the final layout for the project.

 

The department will maintain close contact with property owners and residents in close proximity to the Section A project and other key stakeholders to keep them informed on the progress of construction work.

 

During the Section A project, koala habitats will be established at 14 sites owned by the department adjacent to the Bruce Highway between Pomona and Traveston. This environmental initiative will contribute towards a net gain in koala habitats across south-east Queensland as part of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s Koala Offsets Policy. This offset program will involve revegetating the sites with native tree species, and managing the areas until the bushland is self-sustaining and capable of supporting koalas.

 

Contractors on the Section A project have been in close liaison with local schools about the project and provided mulch for their grounds where possible. Mulch has also been provided to residents near the works. The project team also engages local schools to assist with on-site BBQ’s, to contribute to their Parents and Citizens’ funds; and will look at opportunities to provide project stakeholders with tours of the site as construction progresses.

 

The Section A project is expected to be completed in late 2016, weather permitting. Following this, the department will take ownership of the new highway which includes any future maintenance requirements such as mowing, repairs, collecting debris and establishing landscaped areas. Each contractor is also responsible for a 12 month ‘defects liability’ period after they are finished to ensure the project is maintained to a high standard. 

 

The Section A project will connect the existing four-lane highway in Cooroy to the recently opened section in Federal, ultimately providing at least four highway lanes from Brisbane to Traveston. It will also improve safety for highway and local traffic, reducing the number of fatalities and crashes along the Cooroy to Federal road section.

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