Albion Park Rail Bypass (APRB) project will deliver a 9.8 kilometre four-lane divided highway extension of the M1 Princes Motorway between Yallah and Oak Flats in New South Wales, Australia. The bypass will complete the ‘missing link’ for a high standard road between Sydney and Bomaderry.
The APRB project consists of a motorway-standard highway with four grade separated interchanges, 13 bridges, a shared user path and local road connections to improve community connectivity. The APRB is a significant infrastructure project supporting the growth and development of the Illawarra region by reducing congestion at a notorious bottleneck, improving travel times and most importantly, driver safety. Freight and transport services will also see economic benefit in fuel and time savings. It is estimated that 65 per cent of traffic will transfer off the existing Princess Highway onto the bypass once complete.
SMEC was engaged by the construction contractor Fulton Hogan to provide detailed design services, including alignment, drainage, flooding, geotechnical, structural and pavement design. For its detailed design, SMEC delivered three key engineering innovations which addressed the challenging road alignment in geotechnical and hydraulic conditions:
- Innovation One: Bridge 03, 04 and 13. Bespoke planks were utilised for structures to reduce structural depth, reduce the number of piers in the floodplain by increasing span lengths and reduced construction time on site, limiting impact on the OLS.
- Innovation Two: Bridges 06 & 07. Standard spacing of precast elements was stretched to reduce the number of planks required in each span. This was of importance to the lightly loaded edges of the pergola decks and Bridge 06, due to the number of spans of the structure.
- Innovation Three: Geotechnical Design. The unconventional use of lightweight fill over compressible foundation material improved a number of outcomes, including reducing structural actions in the abutment piles, reducing surcharge thickness and improving safety during construction.
SMEC’s design team reduced the total bridge length across the project by more than 150 m, representing a 30 per cent reduction in total length, and provided approximately $5 million in construction savings to the project. This, among other design improvements, made best use of the available land that had several challenging elements, including the existing highway, railway line, floodplain, a nearby airport and soft, compressible soil.
SMEC’s design reconsidered the way flood catchments were integrated and performed as an integrated network, rather than in isolation, allowing alternative bridge solutions to realise a substantial saving in bridge deck area when compared with the reference design.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) software was used to generate a 3D model of the project for use in construction and asset management. APRB was the first major infrastructure project to utilise Roads and Maritime Services’ latest BIM modelling standards.
Additionally, SMEC has partnered in this project with Autodesk® to deliver a unique and innovative automated engineering design workflow. The solution addressed bridge model design challenges and saved significant time in the workflows, with a reduction in design risk and increase in agility to reacting to design changes for the project.This offering had never been implemented in the Australian market previously, adding real value to the experience it provides for clients as they lead the way in sustainable and optimised construction methods.
Across the projects, SMEC’s innovation and engineering excellence has saved hundreds of hours in design, with the total construction cost saving approaching $10 million.The benefits that this project will deliver for the community are realised through the innovative engineering solutions developed to meet the challenges of the site and to enable successful construction.
This project is an outstanding example of SMEC specialist teams using technical innovation to set new benchmarks and maintain high standards for Australian engineering.
The excellence of theAlbion Park Rail Bypass – Detailed Design (SMEC, Fulton Hogan) was recognised by Engineers Australia as winner of the Australian Engineering Excellence Award Sydney 2020.
- New South Wales, Australia
- Technical Area:
- Transport for New South Wales (Fulton Hogan)
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