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Pacific Highway Upgrade, NSW

A complex road construction project over 20 years

The Pacific Highway upgrade is the largest, most complex road construction project ever undertaken in NSW. It connects Sydney and Brisbane and is a major contributor to Australia's economic activity.

We have been working with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) for twenty years to improve safety and community amenity, better consistency and reliability, reduce travel times and lift national productivity as a result.

Our multidisciplinary team of over 1200 – many of whom committed to the project for over ten years – have redesigned key sections of the highway improving capacity from a two to a four lane highway.

We designed numerous safety measures into the design of the highway that has seen fatal crashes halved and continuing in a downward trend. Through ‘context sensitive design’ we improved sight lines for drivers by making their ‘experience’ the focus of alterations to the design geometry. We considered the ‘harmony of the land’ – the interface between landform and structure – so intersections are of minimal distraction, with the road following the natural undulations of the land.

It has been forecasted that almost 8000 crashes and over 500 fatalities will be avoided as a result of the highway upgrades by 2048. The expected economic uplift is believed to be profound.

We’ve been able to ‘design-in’ any future expansion of the highway to six lanes. For now, we will continue to partner with RMS for the remainder of the upgrade until 2020.

A project of this magnitude required a very sophisticated community engagement programme. Alongside RMS, we were very committed to taking the public along on the journey with us, with face to face, telephone and digital consultations.

We also created and hosted a Collaborative Mapping Tool which crowdsourced information from the public on local issues helping to inform the infrastructure design and significantly broadening the reach of community engagement. This was especially important since many Aboriginal sites are to be found along the coastal region of northern NSW. Being considerate of the traditional owner and their connection with the land was important in gaining acceptance for any changes.