Australia’s largest transport scheme collects a FIDIC prize

Brisbane Airport Link is one of six major projects to be recognised by international consultants as outstanding.

Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup flew the flag, sort of, for UK engineering in this year’s International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Awards.

The team won one of the six outstanding major projects (see box) selected for an award for Australia’s largest transport infrastructure project, the Airport Link in Brisbane.

Here they explain the significance of their scheme.

The project

Following an intense six month tender submission period, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup — as PBA Joint Venture — was selected as part of the BrisConnections consortium to deliver the design for Australia’s largest transport infrastructure project, the Airport Link, Northern Busway (Windsor to Kedron) and Airport Roundabout Upgrade (ARU) projects, or the Airport Link project as it is known.

Characterised by its sheer size, extreme complexity and innovative design, the combined projects form an extensive AUD$5.6 bn (£3bn) transport infrastructure scheme providing a vital transport solution for Brisbane’s burgeoning population.

The project comprises the AirportlinkM7 toll road, the new dedicated busway route and an upgrade to the notorious airport roundabout, which together encompass 15km of tunnels and ramps, 25 connecting bridges and a major upgrade of an existing motorway interchange connecting Brisbane Airport to other destinations.

Constructing the project within the tight constraints of suburban Brisbane under live surface road traffic conditions and within an exceptionally short timeframe were key challenges, in addition to delivering on such a significant scale.


Three schemes in one

Although they are three distinct projects delivered under separate design and construct or public-private-partnership (PPP) models, it was essential to develop and construct all the projects concurrently because of the tightly integrated nature of the alignments and surface connectivity.

• AirportlinkM7 is the first major motorway connecting Brisbane city to the northern suburbs and the domestic and international airports. With 15km of roads and tunnel ramps, it is Australia’s longest road tunnel. The 6.7km of mainly underground toll road will connect the Inner City Bypass, Clem7 tunnel and local road network at Bowen Hills to the northern arterials of Gympie and Stafford roads at Kedron, and Sandgate Road and the East-West Arterial leading to the airport.

• The Northern Busway (Windsor to Kedron) is Stage 2 of this project; it comprises a two-lane 3km long road for buses, with two new architecturally designed busway stations at Kedron and Lutwyche.

• The Airport Roundabout Upgrade consists of a four-lane flyover, a high capacity fast-diamond interchange and the East-West Arterial widened to three lanes each way. The design includes a direct connection from the East-West Arterial to Airport Drive with a 640m flyover, which greatly improves traffic flow and provides excess capacity well beyond the contract’s reference design.


Award-winning design

Airport Link has been recognised in both national and international awards programs, including the Design Award from the International Road Federation Global Achievement Awards (2013); the Special Recognition Award for Sustaining our Environment from Bentley Systems Inc Be Inspired Awards (2012); 2013 Engineers Australia  Sir William Hudson Award, the 2013 Consult Australia Gold Award for Safety in Design, and now Outstanding Project award from the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (2014).


Project statistics

-       Australasia’s largest ever road infrastructure project – AUD $5.6 bn

-       Australia’s largest PPP project

-       Queensland’s longest tunnel

-       Queensland’s most complex road and tunnel project

-       Largest road cavern excavation in the world at 28m wide (equivalent to a nine-storey building on its side)

-       Largest jacked box ever attempted in the Southern Hemisphere

-       25 bridges – the tallest is 25 m high and the longest 640 m

-       Excavated and lined 15 km of tunnels and ramps

-       Over 7 km of new roads

-       State-of-the-art tunnel fire management system

-       13km of new cycle and pathways

-       3.5ha of new parkland

-       17 roadheaders operated concurrently in the mined tunnel section

-       Two of the largest TBMs ever used in Australia – 12.48m in diameter and 195m long, each costing $45 m

-       125,000t of reinforcing steel

-       807,000m³ of concrete.


Fidic Awards 2014 – Outstanding major projects 

Australia: Airport Link, Northern Busway and Airport Roundabout Upgrade Project - Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup 

China: Xi’an Metro Line 2 - China Railway First Survey & Design Institute Group Co., Lt 

France: Jacques Chaban-Delmas vertical lift Bridge - Egis Jmi 

Spain: Madrid M-30 M-RÍOAcciona Ingenería S.A - GINPROSA Ingeniería S.L. - TÉCNICA Y PROYECTOS S.A. (TYPSA) - INTECSA-INARSA S.AUSA: 

USA: Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier Project - Tetra Tec 

USA: Central Link Section 710: Beacon Hill Station and Tunnels - Hatch Mott MacDonad The full shortlist can be found here

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