7.1.4 Traffic growth and increasing demand for space
Increasing government interest in road infrastructure
Given the substantial capital investment needed to improve roads and ensure that there are minimal losses to the economy associated with road use, it is not surprising that central Governments around the world are taking more interest in the outcomes of their investment in road programs. This includes issues such as the condition and value of the networks, the level of investment that may be needed to achieve specific improvements in efficiency or safety, and whether there are alternative solutions and investments that could address the problems. These may include how the space within existing road corridors could be better managed or whether other modes such as public transport could be effectively utilised.
State of the Infrastructure Reports and Infrastructure Scorecards prepared in Australia (e.g. Engineers Australia 2010) provide a form of national or state-wide benchmarking between sectors when comparing road agencies with other sectors such as water, telecommunications and electricity. These reports provide a useful perspective to road agencies, highlighting where there are relative weaknesses.
In New Zealand, the National Infrastructure Unit, which is part of the Government’s Treasury Department, has developed a National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) to address key infrastructure issues being faced by the country. Within this plan, there is an increased focus on resilience, demand management, and funding. Good asset management practice responds to these challenges, supporting the Government in achieving its wider objectives around infrastructure and providing service to communities.
Increasingly, asset management decisions need to consider environmental issues. Road use results in multiple environmental effects, such as emissions to air, greenhouse gas contributions, pollutants entering waterways, and noise, as well as increasing levels of energy consumption. The selection of materials for road construction and maintenance can also have environmental consequences, including energy demand and fossil fuel use. Many new technologies address recycling or better use of materials.
A report on the activities of the Australian Low Carbon Transport Forum (ALCTF) was released in 2012 (ARRB Group, Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics & CSIRO 2012). The aim of the forum was to provide a useful reference guide to government and industry. The forum involved an expert elicitation process to review options for greenhouse gas reduction in transport and explored how deeply emissions could be cut in the sector. A total of 47 abatement options and estimates of the maximal potential reduction of these options by 2050 for road, rail, maritime and aviation were developed.