NHVR hails councils on access and productivity efforts

Toowoomba and Eurobodalla picked out as positive recent examples

NHVR hails councils on access and productivity efforts
Tim Hansen


The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator's (NHVR's) recent focus on local government infrastructure and how it can benefit the heavy vehicle industry sees it spotlight a couple of positive examples.

One specifically relates to its Strategic Local Government Assessment Project (SLGAAP), which it says provides a significant opportunity for local governments across Australia to support heavy vehicle productivity.

The pilot phase of the project is well underway, it notes, with 100 bridges and culverts across 12 councils now being assessed by engineers, and nominations are now open for Round 1 asset assessments. 

Toowoomba Regional Council is one of the councils the regulator sees as benefiting from the project.

"This project is about working with local governments and industry to identify bridges and culverts that need engineering assessments to improve access for heavy vehicles," NHVR chief regulatory policy and standards officer Don Hogben says.

"Looking at how we can use these assets better can provide big productivity benefits for the local economy, while minimising the impact on local residents.

"There is an interactive mapping tool for industry to tell us about any bridges and culverts on heavy vehicle routes that currently may have restricted access."

Toowoomba Regional Council infrastructure committee chair Councillor Carol Taylor highlights the impact of the project for her council.

"From agriculture to construction, the Toowoomba Region has a significant freight need at the heart of our local economy," she says.

"With the recent opening of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, it’s timely to look at the best way we can use our assets and roads.

"Through working with the NHVR we’ve been able to access support and expertise that would normally be out of our reach."

More on the SLGAAP and how it can assist industry, here

Meanwhile, NHVR praises the work of Eurobodalla Shire Council for its effort to incorporate improved freight access into road safety and disaster recovery works.

NHVR Stakeholder Manager (NSW) Tim Hansen says several road managers across NSW were taking an innovative approach to improved freight routes as part of their road safety programs.

"In the case of Eurobodalla Shire Council, a resilient road network and improvements to freight routes have become part of their recovery from the floods and bushfires that have impacted the south coast of NSW over the past 12 months," Hansen says.

"The planning and work of the local council is resulting in a win for road safety and improvements to infrastructure, which have opened up access to freight routes."

Eurobodalla Shire Council director of infrastructure services and Institute of Public Works Engineers Australia (NSW) president Warren Sharpe says the devastating bushfires last November partially or fully damaged 18 timber bridges in the area.

"Rather than just replace a single lane wooden bridge with a single lane concrete bridge – which the funding allowed – we’ve looked at the entire route," Sharpe says.

"That meant identifying vulnerable points or load-limiting structures, and where funding was available, we were able to make improvements that benefit both safety and productivity.

"An example in this area is some of the routes out the back of Bodalla, into the dairy country, the forestry and agricultural country, which will be a fully concrete bridge route from the middle of next year.

"On other routes where we might have to replace a structure or two we’ve been able to work with Transport for NSW or the Federal Government to replace or improve other bridge structures."

The council also released its Eurobodalla Road Safety Plan 2019-22 last year, providing a blueprint for ongoing planning and investment in the region’s road network.

"We know that 47 per cent of crashes are occurring on nine per cent of the network where freight and commuter traffic are continuing to grow," Sharpe says.

"Our plan outlines the actions we can take as a Council to move towards safe roads, safe people, safe vehicles and safe speeds, within the limits of our responsibility."

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