The Friendly Bay Islander - Oct 14, 2013 23:34

Is there a Better Way to Build Island Roadworks?

Is there a Better Way to Build Island Roadworks?
Recently, the Redland City Council has completed works on two streets on Macleay Island with extensive preparation and sealing, much to the delight of local residents.

The work is to a very high standard and the project has taken about six months to complete.

Involved was the preparation, stabilising and sealing and with some curb and guttering, in Scarborough and Eastbourne Terraces.

To carry out the work, council sent teams of workers every day from the mainland.

The previous road surfaces were torn up, and new, stabilised surfaces utilising road base material from the mainland, was used.

The result is impressive. The cost, even more so.

Division 5 Councillor, Mark Edwards, believes there may be more cost efficient ways in carrying out the work and perhaps a different standard of road suitable for the islands, and there are those who agree with him.

Redland City Council builds all its roads to a rigid high standard which may not be required of all island roads.

Road construction costs are high and can run up to $1 million for each road kilometre depending on the conditions and design.

Not only that, but roads that have been built as part of council's previously capital works program, may not have been necessarily the most needy in terms of traffic volumes.

With that in mind, Cr Edwards had requested Council develop a new priority road ranking system that will see future roads sealed on the basis of several criteria that includes weighted scores on amenity, maintenance, road hierarchy, access, servicing and the environment.

Of course the major factor in determining the delivery of infrastructure is the availability of funds (local; state and/or federal) for the construction.

At present, road construction is funded by the Council’s Capital Works program, which is allocated in the yearly budget and general maintenance is funded through an operational budget

"Road construction is funded through a capital works budget as this type of infrastructure has a long service life.

"To provide dust suppression on roads, a spray seal is one of several types of methods that can be used to have a bitumen road look, however, the life cycle of the road is short. Because of this shorter life span, capital funding can’t be used for this type of road treatment.” the councillor said.

Cr Edwards believes that if there was funding allocated in future budgets to provide a number of low cost spray seals, many residents would benefit from the elimination of dusty roads.

The councillor also said:“ Council is anxious to ensure that infrastructure is delivered City wide at the right standard and at the best cost. The nature, type and cost of infrastructure to the islands is certainly being looked at.”

Cr Edwards is supported in his thoughts by an island Chartered Civil Engineer who currently has over 40 years of practical experience in major/minor road building for Local and State Government Roads.

John Clissold currently working in Ayr, south of Townsville, is overseeing an 18 major road reconstruction program for the Burdekin Shire Council with state and federal funding from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

His employer, Harrison Grierson Consulting Engineers, are leading experts in selecting methods/program of road reconstruction to minimise costs while maintaining quality for the state and federal funding requirements.

The Project has been expending at a rate of $650,000 per week and completing one kilometre road lengths in around four days - a remarkable effort.

John believes that by using expertise similar to that of Harrison Grierson Consulting Engineers, many island roads can be reconstructed using existing materials and by changing the method/program of road construction.

"There are laboratory factors of the existing materials that have to be determined for selecting the correct cheaper methods of reconstruction methods.

"Currently, council removes existing surface materials that could have been used for cheaper road reconstruction. If the road reconstruction can use existing treated materials and change the type of road construction methods, then immense savings can be made for road works." he says.

John Clissold believes that with existing budget spend for island roads, perhaps many more kilometres of roads could be sealed utilising a more common sense, tried method of approach.

"We don't have the traffic loadings of the mainland, and the environment and driving habits are very different. These facts need to be taken into design consideration," he told The Friendly Bay Islander.

John said that; “Road construction costs can vary by as much as 60% depending on the type of subgrade soils under island roads. I happen to know there are 20 different types of soils on the islands, but really they fall into three main categories - black soil, clay and sand."

John Clissold and Harrison Grierson Consulting Engineers have offered, at the end of the Ayr contract later in the year, to meet with Cr Edwards and Council to discuss an economical method for future island road building. Cr Edwards is excited with John Clissold's suggestions. Cr Edwards recognises that, by having a local engineer, who has vast road building expertise, there could be benefits for our islands by providing sealed roads, in a timely and considerably cheaper method, thereby making the existing road funding construct additional road kilometres!

By The Friendly Bay Islander