The Pacific Motorway M1/M3 Gateway Merge project is one section of wider upgrades to the Pacific Motorway aimed at reducing congestion and travel times for Queenslanders. Roads & Infrastructure speaks to Cubis Systems about its Guardian Goalposts used on the project.
Between 2002 and 2017, commute times increased by 45 per cent in Brisbane and 30 per cent for the rest of Queensland – some of the most significant increases in the country – according to a Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.
The Pacific Highway is one of the major infrastructure projects in the state, aiming to reduce congestion and overall commute times for drivers along the route.
Upgrades for the Pacific Highway and Motorway will help to better connect Sydney to Brisbane and reduce travel times in areas currently experiencing high levels of congestion.
Spanning from Newcastle in NSW to Springwood in QLD, the Pacific Highway and Motorway upgrades are split into many smaller components, with construction commencing back in 1996 and completion expected by 2020.
As a testament to the project’s importance, Federal Government Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack previously expressed his desire to have the Pacific Highway upgrades completed to Roads & Infrastructure Magazine earlier this year.
The Pacific Motorway upgrade: M1/M3 Gateway Merge project, at Eight Mile Plains in Queensland, comprises a large section of the Pacific Motorway upgrades.
With 148,000 vehicles travelling through each day, it is currently operating at over capacity during the afternoon peak, resulting in significant delays along the motorway and unreliable travel times.
Leading into Brisbane’s city centre, the upgrade of this section is essential for commuters that live and work around the city, and as such has been prioritised with recent developments across improving safety and reducing downtime.
Lendlease, the lead contractor on the project, says the Pacific Motorway M1/M3 Gateway Merge project will help to reduce congestion for the movement of southbound traffic onto the Pacific Motorway. The project is hoped to reduce travel times for the nearly 150,000 daily commuters.
The Federal and Queensland Governments have jointly committed $195.3 million to complete the Pacific Motorway Gateway Merge.
In 2017, Lendlease Engineering was awarded the contract to build the M1/M3/Gateway Merge project alongside the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
The project, which is due for completion in 2020, includes the widening of up to five southbound lanes between Eight Mile Plains and Rochedale South and the construction of a new four-lane overpass.
Together, the upgraded overpass and widening of lanes will provide commuters with an alternative option to using the motorway and allow more vehicles on the motorway during peak times.
Construction of the overpass was a complex process requiring a wide range of earthmoving equipment and machinery. During overnight construction of the new bridge, a closure of the motorway was required to enable the installation of the new bridge’s 52 girders.
Similar large equipment is in use for the lane widening of five southbound lanes of the motorway, requiring 190,000 cubic metres of material to be moved during earthworks.
Most recently, the project has shifted southbound traffic onto new lanes to allow for works in the centre of the Pacific Motorway before completion. The widening of lanes will help to decrease commute times for Queenslanders by alleviating traffic on the motorway, particularly during peak hours.
With Lendlease’s use of cranes, earthmoving equipment and an array of road construction equipment, protecting overhead assets was essential for the company to adhere to its safety requirements.
Overhead assets were a risk to machinery and workers around local roads where the services are more prominent.
Focus on overhead safety
With a two-year project and a large team of contractors working on the upgrades, safety and protection of workers on-site is a number one priority.
To help create a safe environment using large machinery in areas with overhead powerlines and services, Lendlease worked with Cubis Systems to install its Guardian Goalposts. Cubis Systems introduced the Guardian Goalposts to the Australian market around six months ago, not long before the product was picked up for the Pacific Motorway project.
“It was important to ensure suitable exclusion zones were implemented and overhead services were easily identifiable to mitigate risk to personnel and the public,” says Glenn McIlroy, Director, Delivery, Lendlease Engineering.
Business Development Manager at Cubis Systems Trevor Schaefer says one of the worst scenarios on a site without protective systems in place, such as the Guardian Goalposts, involves power lines being brought down on equipment, risking electrocution and worker safety.
With risk to personnel front of mind, there are traditionally exorbitant penalties for contractors who create any downtime in power distribution.
Excavators, mobile cranes, cranes, backhoes and graders are all examples of machines which had potential to interact with overhead services on the Pacific Motorway site.
Mr. McIlroy says the system was implemented at gate entrances and where crossover of overhead services had the potential to affect operational and plant equipment.
“The project carried out an initial on-site review with Cubis during the establishment phase and operation of the Guardian Goalpost system. It showed the system had the potential to allow for rapid deployment and manoeuvrability compared to traditional fixed goal post systems.”
Mr. McIlroy says the Cubis Goalpost system assisted project personnel during site establishment at a time where work fronts were dynamic and continually moving.
The Guardian Goalposts were developed at Cubis Systems’ base in the United Kingdom and are now being widely used for road construction applications to protect machinery and workers from overhead powerlines. The product is a highly visible proximity warning system for when equipment is approaching overhead assets.
Mr. Schaefer from Cubis says one of the major benefits of the Guardian Goalposts is the potential for time savings on-site.
“Traditional systems would require pothole digging to take place on site, and then PVC pipes, tape and draw ropes to construct the barrier. This would usually take two personnel up to three hours,” Mr. Schaefer says.
The Guardian Goalposts systems comprise two bases holding non-conductive telescopic poles that are joined by a highly visible warning bunting or a GRP telescopic cross bar. Comparable to traditional methods, Guardian Goalposts can be erected by a single person.
The Guardian Goalposts typically sit around five metres before the overhead asset. In most cases, the posts would be placed on either side of a power line.
“The ease of the system means two workers can assemble the posts and walk away in 20 minutes. Traditional systems could take two people between two or three hours to set up a single set,” Mr. Schaefer says.
Traditional systems further lengthen set-up time as workers are required to dig pot holes in the ground to check for cables that may be affected if a picket was to be driven in for the poles.
Another feature of the Guardian Goalposts system is that it can be easily moved around sites. Mr. Schaefer says this results in considerable benefits to construction managers or the foreman, who would otherwise need to allocate a group of people for several hours to set up a non-engineered system.
While cost and time savings are important on-site, the protection and safety of personnel, particularly around power lines, is the highest priority.
“Cost savings with labour is one thing, but if the poles have to be moved in an emergency, you have to distribute workers from other jobs to move the poles again,” he says.
The Guardian Goalposts system enabled workers to create efficiencies on-site for a major project with many different aspects, as well as providing an increased safety element to protect a large team of workers and the public.
The Guardian Goalposts will continue to be used on the Pacific Motorway M1/M3 Gateway Merge project through to its expected completion in mid-2020.