Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : July 2011 Contents 58 futurebuilding
Volume 2 Number 1
Achieving SAfer infrAStructure
By Dr MichAel Shirley
infrastructure developers balance a range
of considerations in meeting the world’s
insatiable infrastructure needs. Among the
drivers for this infrastructure is the emerging
goal of safer infrastructure.
Many challenges present themselves
in getting infrastructure right: determining
funding and securing finance, embedding
sustainability and innovation, ensuring
flexibility to meet future needs and building
adaptability to climate change.
infrastructure development in its
essence is improving service and amenity
to communities - delivering a blend of
economic, environmental and social benefits.
As environmentally sensitive infrastructure
has matured to become the norm, it is a
community centric view of infrastructure
development that is elevating safety.
Safer infrastructure thinking does not
merely aspire to ensure that members
of community or those involved in its
development, construction and operations are
unharmed by existence of the infrastructure.
Progressive approaches are seeking to create
infrastructure that anticipates safety risks and
seeks to remove these at all design stages.
transport is the obvious focus for safer
infrastructure; however, recent climatic
events in Australia and seismic events
globally have highlighted that safe power and
water infrastructure is equally crucial.
for transport infrastructure such as
road and rail, the focus is on minimising
or removing occurrences of construction
and operational fatalities and injuries. in
the rail sector, we are seeing a focus on
rail’s interface with roads. comprehensive
grade separation is an obvious step that has
safety and efficiency benefits for both sets
of intersecting infrastructure. continuing
developments in intelligent transport Systems
(itS) enables smarter and safer rail signals and
communications solutions including systems
that assist drivers in detecting potential
collisions and assertive systems that take
the biggest challenge and opportunity,
however, is in achieving safer road
in Australia, road authorities have placed
major efforts on improved road safety to
reduce fatalities and major injuries in the face
of growing vehicle numbers and congestion.
Worldwide, the challenge to address
road safety is staggering in scale and urgent
in need. globally, 1.3 million people die
every year as a result of a traffic collision.
rapid population growth and increasing
urbanisation and exploded levels of vehicle
ownership in developing nations mean that
these statistics are set to worsen significantly.
the criticality of this issue has seen the
united nations launch a Decade for Action
for road Safety (2011-2020) that will deliver
against a range of strategies to improve
global road safety management, achieve safer
infrastructure and vehicles, improve road user
behaviour and provide better post crash care.
Achieving safer infrastructure is
particularly urgent as middle and low
income nations – who are most affected by
road fatalities – reach critical stages in their
economic development and begin rapidly
increasing their infrastructure.
in Australia, the transport infrastructure
sector has a role to play – not just in
addressing our own road safety challenges,
but in driving innovation and transferring
Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) is committed
to this goal and we have already begun
to realise the benefits of developing safer
infrastructure, delivering projects with
enhanced outcomes for our clients and our
On a recent upgrade to the hume
highway, one of Australia’s major highways
and busiest road freight routes, the safety in
design process ran successfully throughout
the entire project.
this approach seeks to provide a safe
environment during the construction and
operation of an infrastructure project, where
the design needs to address road safety issues
such as provision of adequate sight and
stopping distances, layout of barriers, and an
adequate level of lighting and so on.
in this context of a rural freeway carrying
large numbers of heavy vehicles, innovations
• new intersection layout types
designed for heavy truck traffic
- providing a two-stage turning
movement that allows the heavy
vehicle to stop in the median of the
highway and assess oncoming traffic.
• Applying 3D visualisation techniques
to assess safety need and impact of
the position of earth mounds that
remove the impact of headlight glare
at night for opposing traffic on one
carriageway of the highway and any
realigned adjacent local roads.
• Adjusting designs of sedimentation
basins along the road corridor to
address the risk of slipping and
• flattening embankments alongside
the carriageways to decrease
potential truck roll overs.
SKM embraces the challenge of
improving safety in our communities and
we are excited about the role we can play in
achieving great infrastructure outcomes.
Dr Michael Shirley is General Manager,
Buildings and Infrastructure at leading
engineering, sciences and project delivery
firm Sinclair Knight Merz.
Dr MIchael ShIrley
General Manager, Buildings & Infrastructure, SKM
315646E_Sinclair Knight Merz | 1709.indd 2
5/3/11 3:45 PM
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