Toowoomba Second Range Crossing – Australia’s Newest Freight Route

Yesterday the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC) opened to the public.

The project is the largest Federal Government commitment to a single road project in Queensland’s history and Regional Queensland’s biggest Public Private Partnership (PPP) to date.

 

This intergenerational infrastructure project will help manage increased traffic volumes that put pressure on the highway network passing through Toowoomba and over the Great Dividing Range.

 

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Accelerating the Growth of Regional Australia

The TSRC also improves freight movement efficiencies, addressing a key constraint in the National Land Transport Network. It is arguably the most significant recent contributor to the region’s economic development, employment and supply chain opportunities. Crossing the Great Dividing Range at Toowoomba has been a complex project and we are proud to support our clients by delivering this key infrastructure and giving future Darling Downs generations a new strategic connection.

 

Gerard Ryan, our Transport Client Director and Regional Director for Queensland says, “The TSRC delivers real benefits to the region, enabling heavy vehicles to bypass 18 traffic lights and reduce travel times by up to 40 minutes. Improving freight movements can facilitate an AUD2.4 billion increase in economic activity over the next 30 years. Overall, the project improves community amenity, safety, and functionality – road users and residents will enjoy lower numbers of heavy vehicles, and less through-traffic on central Toowoomba’s urban arterial roads.”

 

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Partnering for Success

WSP, in joint venture with Aurecon, provided tender, detailed design and construction design support services to Nexus Delivery on behalf of Nexus Infrastructure. The Federal and Queensland Governments began planning the TSRC in the mid-1990s. In 2012 a detailed business case followed environmental approvals, and in 2014, procurement and delivery of the 41km-long TSRC started. Since then, we have drawn on our global network to engage teams from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines for the joint venture – nearly 600 of our joint venture staff worked on this significant engineering project.

 

Our project role spanned the full range of disciplines involved – civil road geometry including interchanges, local service roads, utilities, traffic design, street lighting and roadway ITS and communications, pavements, geotechnical, hydrology and hydraulic design, drainage and water quality, environmental services, bridge and retaining structures and building structures, durability, noise assessments, landscaping design services, geospatial services and visualisation services.

 

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Developing Solutions

The TSRC project teams worked collectively with Nexus through significant design challenges, including:

  • Topography – the project’s eastern section traverses very steep ground, while the western section crosses undulating black-soil terrain. As a result, we designed significant bridge and retaining structures to enable the road to traverse the mountainous terrain and allow the road to climb the range.
  • Geology and geotechnics – high embankments and cuttings were needed for the road structure as it climbs from the flat plainlands in the east over the Great Dividing Range to the west. The region is geologically complex and required innovative design solutions for all aspects including batter stability, mass haul and material selection.
  • Environment – developed management, protection and relocation plans for a small legless lizard, the Collared Delma (Delma Torquata), listed as vulnerable and identified in the road corridor.
  • Flooding – Developed complex hydraulic modelling and detailed drainage solutions to meet the challenge of the Toowoomba region’s major flooding events and steep terrain.
  • Roads & pavements – Considered the road geometry and functionality to support its operation and manage interaction between long distance and local trips. Careful thought went into the materials available for pavement design and supporting the construction methodology.

 

The innovative design provides a striking gateway into the Toowoomba region. A key aspect included a cutting about 30 m deep atop the range to allow all heavy vehicles, including dangerous goods carriers and over-dimensional vehicles, to safely use the new road. The cutting included a viaduct 800 m long and 50 m high, built over the existing Queensland Rail line.

 

The official opening followed a weekend of community celebrations, including a vintage car rally, Ride the Range – a charity bike event, a community open day where people could walk the newly completed bypass section before it opened to traffic, and a running festival with a marathon on the near-perfect 41 km-long trail.

 

As part of yesterday’s opening, the family of the late Hong Zhu (WSP Geotechnical Engineer) attended the official ceremony.  Hong worked as part of the design team until his battle with cancer ended in January 2016. Gerard adds, “It was lovely for Sonia and John to be able to witness the project’s opening and help honour Hong’s memory.

 

“Thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly to deliver this project which will transform the region and help the local community thrive.”

 

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