2005 National Case Earth Awards – Geraldton Southern Transport Corridor

Thiess, Main Roads WA and the Public Transport Authority have taken out both the national category three and the overall national awards in the environmental excellence division of the 2005 National Case Earth Awards. The wins are for the huge Geraldton Southern Transport Corridor Project, an $88 million infrastructure initiative which is improving rail and road access to the Port of Geraldton while separating heavy vehicles from local traffic. The project, which is about 80 per cent finished and due for completion in November, is the largest civil construction project ever undertaken in Geraldton. It includes 5.3km of new roads, 13km of rail, four bridges, two tunnels, the relocation of 97 services and an incredible 1.4 million cubic metres cut to fill. Construction of the new rail link meant the rail line on the CBD foreshore could be removed, paving the way for the replenishment of the beaches. Over 54,000 truck movements through city streets brought in more than 780,000 cubic metres of sand to extend the beaches and provide construction fill. The sand placement required sensitive turbidity management, to ensure seagrass in Champion Bay was not damaged. Monitoring of the sea floor has shown that construction has not led to any long term environmental impacts from turbidity. Because the project site is at the doorstep of Geraldton’s city centre, community consultation and noise and dust mitigation were vitally important. Geraldton is known for strong summer winds and low summer rainfalls, and dust mitigation measures were increased substantially after stronger than average winds in January this year. In addition to taking these steps to minimise environmental impacts, the project team implemented innovative construction techniques. For instance, the rail alignment was raised by about one metre, reducing the amount of spoil generated by about one million cubic metres. This meant cost savings and less disruption, as well as delivering further environmental benefits. In a further bid to expedite project completion and minimise disruption, the team altered the sequence of the works. The carefully re-worked schedule meant the Brand interchange was constructed without the need to close the busy Brand Highway. It also reduced the period of traffic disruption and allowed landscaping the area to begin a year earlier than originally envisaged. The team was so successful in coordinating the works for maximum efficiency that the project is now expected to be completed five months ahead of schedule.

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