SA councils unite for roadwork innovation

A crumbed rubber road surfacing project by City of Mitcham, South Australia.

Three councils in Adelaide have commenced an initiative to explore new techniques and technologies to build and resurface local roads.  Roads are the largest asset among Australia’s councils and local governments are responsible for 75 percent of the country’s road network.

Led by the City of Mitcham, in partnership with the cities of Unley and Holdfast Bay, expressions of interest were requested by 24 January to find companies and research bodies willing to partner with the Councils to develop proposals that could lead to demonstration sites.

“We’re not looking for a one-off solution, rather we’re interested in demonstrating that some or all of the proposals will work long-term and can be applied to our whole road network in the future,” City of Mitcham’s Lead Engineer, Russell King, said.

“Innovators in the asphalt industry may want totrial new mixes or designs, for example”.

“Suppliers and civil contractors may be experimenting with different materials and mixes or better, safer work methods and want to test those, while education and research organisations may wish to get involved in finding practical applications in the field for trials of the latest cutting-edge technology or research to make our roads safer or last longer.”

City of Mitcham has a track record of using new surfaces, including a new crumbed rubber trial with five other South Australian councils, and a permeable pavement pilot that increased the amount of rainwater going to trees in a suburban park.

“We’re constantly striving to push the boundaries of current practices to provide more efficient ways of doing things, and also offering more sustainable outcomes, with a strong community focus and benefit,” Mr King said.

“We’ve partnered with other councils, manufacturers, and universities in the past with great results and we’re keen to see this continue.”

The three councils’ aims include cost savings by reducing construction time and the amount of materials needed, and making them recyclable at the end of their life to create a circular economy for road assets.

Other possible outcomes include a reduction in carbon emissions, safer working methods so employees and contractors get home safely every day, and a safer road environment for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Now the expression of interest process has closed, the next step is identifying interesting ideas or practices the councils would like to explore, trial or demonstrate.

The councils will then negotiate and liaise with successful applicants to determine suitable sites, funding, testing regimes, and any costs to procure the goods or services.

“There is already great synergy between our councils that builds on the relationships we have established with past projects, and it makes sense that many urban councils in our state are seeing the benefits of collaboration for reasons that go beyond costs,” Mr King said.

“I hope that this pilot project develops over time and we see more cooperation, resource sharing and active partnerships spring up between councils, and that this will ultimately result in better outcomes for our work programs, for what the community needs, and in operations that have reduced negative impacts on our environment.”

Image: A crumbed rubber mix road surfacing project in the City of Mitcham, SA.