Project Management Assignment: Design & Construction of Bruce Highway Upgrade Program
Task: Project description: Bruce Highway Upgrade Program is one of the Australia's largest road infrastructure projects. It is one of the most influential projects impacting traffic flow across Queensland which is designed in several stages. This project is capable of providing considerable direct and indirect benefits in the economy.
For this project management assignment, you are required to write a report (3,000 words) outlining the economic evaluation, design, and construction of this remarkable facility.
The Bruce Highway upgrade project is a megaproject that is projected to take 15 years starting in 2013 and completing in 2028. A massive investment of 12.6 million has been budgeted for this project over this time. This money is to be contributed by the government of Queensland and the federal government.It is expected to result in economic gain for Queensland, and to contribute to the nation’s connectivity via highway. The project also aims to improve flood resilience and capacity along the highway. At the seven-year mark in 2020, 23 major projects had been completed including 64 bridges, 30 rest stops, and 300 kilometres of roadsides which were safer.
The Bruce highway is the major corridor in Queensland from north to south. It covers 1677 kilometres. It plays an important role as an important route for tourists, and connects inland farming areas to 11 coastal ports.
Project’s original objectives and scope
1. To signal an economic boost for Queensland through the creation of jobs in construction.
2. To improve safety- there had been a marked increase in car crashes along this highway, and improving the road system hopes to alleviate this. By providing wide centre-line treatments, improving interaction, and installing safety barriers, the risk of crashes resulting in death and serious injury should be greatly reduced.
3. To improve national connectivity
4. To ease the congestion in the area- Addition of more lanes, managed motorways, separating flows of traffic, and upgraded intersections.
5. Improve accessibility to local communities
6. To foster tourism and freight
7. Increase flood resilience- The plan includes improving flood resilience in sections of the road where flooding was prevalent, and building raised bridges.
8. Improve the transport systems to march the increasing populations
The highway is 1677 kilometres, and the project was split into sections which were to be assigned to different contractors. Depending on the kind of work required on a section, such as more lanes, bridges, and innovative additions, the budget was allocated and contractors sought. The project was originally to take 10 years but eventually the projected time was extended to 15 years. It is expected to be done by 2027/2028. The following are the projects that are starting this year, those that are continuing, and those that are being completed.
1. Starting- $662 million Bruce Highway – Caboolture to Sunshine Coast upgrade, $107 million Bruce Highway – Townsville Northern Access Intersection upgrade, $103 million Bruce Highway – Saltwater Creek Bridge upgrade.
2. Continuing-$480 million Bruce Highway – Edmonton to Gordonvale upgrade, $335 million Bruce Highway – Maroochydore Road and Mons Road Interchanges upgrades,$163 million Bruce Highway – Deception Bay Interchange upgrade, $120 million Bruce Highway – Mackay Northern Access Upgrade, $50 million Bruce Highway – Mackay to Proserpine upgrade.
3. Concluding- $932 million Bruce Highway – Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway upgrade, $514.3 million Bruce Highway – Haughton River Floodplain upgrade, $194 million Bruce Highway – Rockhampton Northern Access upgrade, $123.7 million Bruce Highway – Kate Street to Aumuller Street upgrade, $16.6 million Bruce Highway – Tinana overtaking lanes.
Selection process of the project management and design team
The contractors who are essentially the project managers were procured by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. The Queensland government call for expressions of interest in the project, and a compulsory meeting is held to discuss the tenders. The selected proponent is then shortlisted.The contractors selected thus far have been Australian companies, and they have been required to collaborate with suppliers and subcontractors from Queensland.
The design process was done by the project proponent which was the government. The contract was given after the design was obtained. For example, the detailed design for Section D project took 2 years.
Project funding / financing, budget, and completion cost
When the project began, the projected budget was $8.5 billion . The project was to be funded by a ratio of 80:20 by the Australian government and the Queensland government. The Bruce Highway is currently projected to cost about $12.6 billion. This is a 150% increase from the original cost. Of this amount, the Australian government has invested $10 billion. The federal government has invested $10.6 billion while the government of Queensland gave $2.6 billion. The Bruce Highway Trust was set up in 2017, and the Queensland government pledged an annual minimum of $200 million to it.
When the project was first announced in 2013, the Federal government announced a budget of $8.5 billion to be contributed in conjunction with the Queensland government in the ratio 80:20. The year 2018 saw the budget and time limit for the project increase to by 15 years and a further $3.3 billion from the Federal Government. The Queensland government doubled its commitment from $800 million to $1.6 billion. The federal government committed $425 million more in 2019, and $201 million in 2020. A further $175,210,000 was invested by the Australian government for black spots, rest areas, and safety upgrades. This further investment was to make additions including ;
1. New and improved rest areas
2. Wide centre line treatments
3. Upgrade and improvement of intersections
4. Elimination of roadside hazards
5. Installing safety barriers
In summary, the project is completely tax-funded.
Different stages of the design and construction process
The Cairns Bruce upgrade project was prioritized due to the elevated congestion in that area. A lot of work needed to be done, including improving service road connection, improving safety for all road users including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, reducing traffic signals to reduce time wastage, adding capacity, and equipping the highway with safe pedestrian and cycle links. The successive projects were chosen in a similar manner, with regards to urban development which resulted in congestion and the need for road upgrades.
Challenges, criticisms and changes in the project
It has been argued that major infrastructural projects in Australia, including the Bruce Highway upgrade, have a quite low benefit-cost ratio, which defeats the purpose of their implementation . This includes the economic benefits expected, as well as the improved efficiency in transport and land use benefits. Not much has been gained from the project since its completionposing the question on its viability. The article reports that even when all these three benefits are factored in, the benefit to cost ratio is still under 2. According to the author, highway projects such as the Bruce Highway upgrades usually have benefit to cost ratios of above 2 despite costing a lot of money to carry out. Similarly,
notes that many engineering projects tend to result in wasted value of money.
Project management structure and delivery mechanism
Due to the nature of the project, it being an infrastructural project meant to bring benefit to the public, the project is being delivered as a public-private partnership. The proponent and owner of the project is the Queensland government, and each phase of the project is handled by one contractor or multiple contractors depending on scale. Due to this being a partnership, the project owner can make stipulation about how they would like the project to proceed. In this case the government has made stipulations about the environment, social responsibility, and the source of the contractors and materials to be used.
As per the Queensland website, it is required that all successful contractors work together with local sub-contractors and make use of locally-sourced raw materials. It was also recommended that they find a way to include local dwellers in the design process. The Queensland government stipulates that all steps taken in the project, including planning, design, construction, and operation, must be done with sustainability in mind. It further notes that the emission footprint of materials should be limited. The environment has been mentioned as a priority in this project, which is very positive because the construction industry in general is known to produce huge volumes of waste. Reusing and recycling of materials has been suggested for the upgrade projects. The contractors are further expected to protect and enhance environmental values. This means that the in the construction process, no rare flora and fauna shall be interfered with in their natural environment, and that there shall be unnecessary clearing of land for the project.
Ensuring project performance
Methodology for economic evaluation benefits and the safety considerations
1. Cost benefit ratio
The project was pursued mainly due to its benefits to the economy, and the role it would play in making transport easier and less congested. Edmonton to Gordonvale, for example, was constructed because the population in these regions was steadily increasing, and this was leading to congestion and an increase in car crashes on this highway . It was expected that the population in these suburbs would increase by 3% every year from 2016 to 2036. The benefit-cost ration calculated by the government of Queensland yielded 1.14 as the value. This value did not factor in the value capital assets such as bridges whose lifespan would exceed 30 years. However, the project was seen as still viable enough because it would improve the travel experience.
2. Overarching environmental management plan(OEMP)  For the projectsenvironmental planning as done to guide the design team in tackling environmental matters. These include how to mitigate threats to the environment, the presence of endangered species in an area around a construction site, how to report incidents, and much more. Since a reduced greenhouse gas footprint and protecting the environment are some of the objectives of the project, the planning process needed to include mitigation and reporting measures. Any construction sites of specific concern were found before, and not after, planning.
Any scope creep was avoided or minimised
Sections of the project such as the Mackay ring road included the invitation of property owners to make innovations and improvements to the design . For this reason it is inevitable that there was scope creep in this project. Changes in the design were expected. Similarly, there was a notable increase in the projected budget, with the current projected price being 150% of the original one. The time to be taken by the project has also been since increased by 5 years to 2027/2028 .
The statistics above prove that there was serious scope creep, and because there are still so many years to go for the project, there is always the possibility that there will be further increases in the budget as well as delays that may necessitate a time increase. On the Queensland Government website, there a statements such as ‘the project shall be competed on a particular date, weather permitting’. This shows that while plans have been carefully laid out, the fact is that there are factors that could slow down progress, and the proponents of the project have noted them.
Scope creep was not avoided in this project. The parameters that has been set for the project, especially financial, continually expanded to include the new additions needed. For a project of public concern this is not particularly negative because the suggested improvements that increased the budget were to improve the quality of work and safety of the highway for users.
The project was completed within the budgeted cost and allocated timeline
The project was first projected to be completed 10 years after its commencement in 2013 and cost $8.5 billion. This was changed to 15 years of implementation, with the price increasing to $12.7 billion. With the changed timeline, the project should be in 2027/2028. The project has obviously went way above its original projected budget, and shall not be completed as quickly as was first thought.
Findings, conclusion and recommendations
1. The Caloundra road interchange was innovated into a diverging diamond interchange, which was an idea that was yet to be tried in Australia. This design is meant to reduce congestion .
2. Caboolture-Bribie island road interchange to Steve Irwin way received an upgrade in bridge structures and creek crossings that would in future allow implementation of smart motorway technology. This is innovative because most long term infrastructure projects rarely allow for the possibility of further technological additions. Success
1. With roughly 7 years to spare, 23 major projects have been completed, with some in progress and others commencing within the year. The progress of the project is visible, and this is a success in itself.
2. The project owners managed to make stipulations to the contractors that would create employment in Queensland while improving efficiency of operation. The carbon footprint of the project was kept at minimum because the materials were locally sourced and reuse and recycle of waste was encouraged.
3. The project consulted with local landowners for innovations on the project. This is a success because in this way the public owns the project and sees it as theirs, and therefore they support it despite any inconveniences it might cause.
4. In keeping with the desire to use local products in production, the Queensland government has contracted Australian companies to oversee the projects. For example Decmil is an Australian contractor while CPB contractors are Australasian.
1. The planning stages of this project failed to factor in some things, as is obvious from the major changes that had to be made to the budget and timeframe. Some safety considerations had to be added to the project, making it cost more. These should have been considered earlier. Additional issues include catering for inflation which would affect the costs of materials and labour. There was a failure in the planning stage, because the changes that were made were not in any way minimal.
2. The benefit-cost analysis did not make the project seem as economically viable as the government claims it shall be. For this reason it might turn out to be like other infrastructure projects whose investment does not seem worthwhile. On the flipside, it is a positive that the government of Queensland is undertaking a project that is not obviously profitable, but that will improve the travel experiences of its citizens.
1. During the implementation of this project, the roads being worked on could not be used normally . This is because the road users had to make use of inconveniencing diversions or experience delays in their travel due to ongoing construction. This challenge is an oxymoron in itself because as it expects to ease such problems upon its completion, it causes them in the construction stage. In addition, pedestrians and cyclists would be forced to use other routes.
2. As with other construction projects, the highway upgraded resulted in some pollution. These include dust and noise from trucks and construction tools. Other inconveniences include vibrations due to the heavy machinery . While there are plans on how to handle the dust, with water carts and street sweepers being engaged to clear dirt, no suggestions have been made to prevent road user from being otherwise inconvenienced.
The Bruce Highway Upgrade Project is an ambitious and grand project by size and importance . In its implementation, sustainability has been required, as well as environment friendliness. The project has prioritized all the users, and has made provisions for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to each safely use the roads and have a place to rest. The greatest mark of all good projects is that the needs of the user will override those of the maker. While there was an obvious short-sightedness during the planning stage, the project has introduced new innovation in Australia and attempted to make production as clean as possible.
Opinions and recommendations for improvement in the design and construction of similar projects in future
1. To avoid scope creep, limit the number of innovative ideas from the stakeholders that shall be included in the project. While there is interest in having a modern and innovative project that serves every user equally well, it is important to stay as bound by the plans made as possible.
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