Objective 4Emerging road technologies
- Intelligent transport systems
- Digital Engineering
- Addressing traffic congestion
- Emergency Vehicle Priority
- Drone bridge inspections
Intelligent transport systems
Intelligent transport systems (ITS) (see glossary) are smart infrastructure applications that use innovative, computer based tools, combined with state-of-the-art communications and control systems to provide integrated operations across the motorway network.
The department uses ITS tools such as variable speed limits, ramp metering, and lane use management signs, to improve road safety, traffic flow and manage congestion. These tools also enable road users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and 'smarter' use of our transport networks.
In addition to the existing technologies already being used across the network, the department is continually investigating new technologies that may help to improve network performance.
The State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) released in March 2016 outlined five infrastructure directions for Queensland, including promoting a more efficient procurement process and the better use of existing assets.
Key Implementation Action (15) under the SIP directions is implementing the use of Building Information Management (BIM) progressively into all major state infrastructure projects by 2023.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) uses 3D technology to aid in the planning, design, construction, and asset management of infrastructure. Providing a 3D model as the single point of truth, BIM enables multiple disciplines to collaborate seamlessly on infrastructure projects, ensuring they are optimised in the 'virtual world' well before construction begins.
Implementing BIM will deliver significant savings for Queensland by improving efficiency throughout the infrastructure management lifecycle.
The systems and processes will help to:
- avoid errors – BIM's clash detection technology will help eliminate costly design errors, allowing a problem to be fixed in the 'virtual' world before it costs money in construction
- reduce waste – BIM's superior capability in programming and estimating quantities will reduce material wastage in construction
- optimise information – BIM's reliable information management will make for more effective planning and delivery, as well as more dynamic asset operation and maintenance.
To assist the department in realising the benefits of BIM a new guideline 'Building Information Modelling (BIM) for Transport and Main Roads' was released in May 2017.
The department is already implementing BIM on the following projects:
- Ipswich Motorway – Darra to Rocklea
- Bruce Highway – Haughton River Floodplain Upgrade
- Pacific Motorway – Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes.
As these projects progress, the true benefits of BIM will be tested and achieved.
Addressing traffic congestion
TMR recognises the community's concerns about increasing congestion on our road networks, particularly in the south east corner. The graph below compares the growth of vehicles registered, traffic and two congestion measures over the last five years. Addressing the traffic congestion task is challenging, particularly when there is significant growth in vehicle registrations (16 per cent) and traffic volumes (14 per cent).
Through implementing a number of key initiatives, TMR has limited the increase in travel times and reduction in travel time reliability when compared to the increase of vehicles on our roads.
In addition to specific projects that are increasing capacity on the network, such as the Gateway Upgrade North, the department has also worked to better manage congestion on the existing network through:
- development of a Smarter Solutions Network Optimisation Framework to help identify low-cost and non-infrastructure solutions
- improved incident management including traffic response units (with council)
- signal network optimisation
- managed motorway operations (for example, South East Freeway ramp signalling, Ipswich Motorway Lane Use Management, Port of Brisbane Variable Speed Limit operations and Bruce Highway ramp signals and variable speed limits)
- the further development of tools to quantify excessive congestion and causes of congestion
- statewide rollout of Emergency Vehicle Priority on state-controlled roads
- improved traffic management at roadworks.
While these initiatives support the department in better managing the network, TMR has also improved the community's access to traffic and congestion information through the refresh of the QLDTraffic website and the launch of the smartphone app. QLDTraffic allows road users to access real-time information and make informed decisions when planning their travel.
In 2016–17 average travel time has increased by 2.1 per cent and travel time reliability decreased by 2.5 per cent. However the combination of the measures outlined above has helped to limit the increases in congestion relative to vehicle and travel growth, which is higher.
Emergency Vehicle Priority
Emergency Vehicle Priority (EVP) is a revolutionary approach to creating safer communities by integrating Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) with emergency service dispatch systems. First conceptualised in 2006, an initial proof of concept project was introduced in Bundaberg in 2008 to explore feasibility. The concept evolved to a successful trial of EVP on the Gold Coast from November 2012, and has since been expanded to a statewide rollout to be completed by June 2019.
The EVP solution deployed in Queensland is a dynamic intelligent transport system which is constantly tracking the position of Queensland Ambulance Services (QAS) emergency vehicles in 'Code 1' operation or Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) appliances in 'TO' operation; and automatically, without human intervention, interrupts normal traffic signal operations at the optimal timing for any given traffic condition.
Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS) and 3D visualisation (check if FB post to link to)
The department has introduced a smarter way to capture terrain and feature information on the state road network. Over long corridor lengths, Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS) technology is faster, cheaper and safer than traditional surveying methods, producing three-dimensional models of the road network for use in asset management, road planning and design activities.
The department owns and operates a fleet of terrestrial surveying instruments and Remotely Piloted Aircrafts capable of scanning environments to collect data and create point clouds (visual representations of the data). In addition, TMR has delivered a multitude of airborne, terrestrial and mobile point cloud captures using our industry partners.
We have applied 3D printing capability to prototype steelwork parts for bridge jacking operations, prior to fabrications. This latest innovative application ensures components aligned within the structures tolerances and prevented any potential installation clashes.
Some examples of point cloud technology in practice over the last 12 months include:
- Point cloud technology was successfully employed in the wake of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie to highlight issues facing the department at Sarina and Eungulla Ranges and Lamington National Park Road. 3D models and visualisations derived from point cloud and imaging technologies helped communicate to our stakeholders the scouring and slope failures caused by this extreme weather event.
- Terrestrial surveying was used to model heritage listed components of the Burnett River bridge for future reverse engineering purposes. The same technology was also used to calculate the volume of material contained in a number of Riverside Expressway bridges to better understand design life probability.
- point cloud information, derived from mobile laser scanning equipment, was used to find and assess 3000 kilometres of roadside conflicts along priority oversize vehicle routes.
Using point cloud technology to assist with Building Information Modelling for civil infrastructure, deformation monitoring, ever more complex 3D visualisation and modelling will be a strong focus for our department moving forward.
Drone bridge inspections
TMR utilises Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA – also commonly known as drones) to perform effective and economical programmed work and project support. Applications of use include inspection of road structures, aerial reconnaissance of greenfield construction sites, identifying shoaling locations at sandbars adjacent to navigation channels, identifying oil slick on seawater, post disaster damage assessments and monitoring of earth slope stability.
Using RPA footage and aerial photography is both high quality and low cost while adding value to the department and the community.
Community engagement opportunities for TMR projects have been enhanced with the sharing of drone flyover footage and aerial photography on the department's social media channels and website. This gives the community a unique visual of the progress of works underway across the state.
Contract reports that include flyover footage can clearly show the physical progress of deliverables such as earthworks, drainage structures, bridges and roads which add values to communication between customers and stakeholders.
During the flooding of Rockhampton caused by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, RPA footage was used to demonstrate the success of the very first implementation of traffic contraflow over Yeppen Flood Plain's high level bridge enabling continued road access into Rockhampton from the south at the peak of the flooding.
This rapidly advancing technology continues to be monitored within TMR to ensure that potential applications are identified and progressed from trial to implementation to add value to the work we deliver for Queensland.