USPS to trial self-driving trucks

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is set to trial self-driving trucks in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas for a two-week period.
TuSimple, a self-driving truck company, has announced that the USPS has awarded it a contract to perform five round trips, for a two-week pilot. This trial will haul USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service’s Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas distribution centres.
The truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board for the duration of the pilot to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety.
TuSimple will run a series of its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, which includes overnight driving, along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors to make the trip through ArizonaNew Mexico and Texas.
The freight that flows along I-10 corridor accounts for 60 percent of the total economic activity in the United States.
“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck. Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system, and expedite the technological development and commercialisation progress,” Dr. Xiaodi Hou, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, TuSimple said.

Last chance to attend 2017 CCF Summit and Awards

Time is running out to register for the 2017 CCF Australian Infrastructure Summit and National Earth Awards Gala Dinner, which takes place in Canberra 21 – 22 November.
The event gives delegates unique insight into the major developments taking place in the civil construction space, bolstered by a range of industry speakers and a full summit program including:
*Opening presentation by the Hon Darren Chester MP, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
* Launch of the 2017-2018 CCF Infrastructure Report
* National Infrastructure Construction Schedule (NICS)
* CLARA’s ‘Smart City Project’
* NHVR’s ‘Heavy Vehicle Permit AccessCONNECT Program
* Australian Rail Track Corporation’s ‘Inland Rail Project
Attendees can view the full Summit program, and register for the event and the 2017 CCF National Earth Awards Gala Dinner – recognising excellence in civil construction projects across Australia – here.

DP World opens Botany Intermodal

DP World Logistics Australia has opened its Botany Intermodal site, with the official launch ceremony led by the Hon. Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight – New South Wales.
Paul Scurrah, Managing Director and CEO; and Mark Hulme, Chief Operating Officer – Logistics, customers, industry stakeholders and employees joined Minister Pavey in opening the site in Port Botany.
Scurrah dedicated the opening of the event to Anil Wats, DP World Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, who recently passed away.
Minister Pavey spoke about the important role of New South Wales’ intermodal facilities and rail networks facilitating the movement of export goods through our ports from regional areas.
Hulme thanked the DP World Logistics Australia team for their work in launching the new site.

New NSW Roads, Freight and Maritime Minister named

Newly appointed New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has named Melinda Pavey as the state’s new Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister.
Pavey will replace outgoing Transport Minister Duncan Gay as part of a new-look NSW Cabinet.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) welcomed the appointment of Pavey and thanked Gay, who held the position since 2014 and was one of the original shareholding ministers during the formative years of the NHVR.
“On behalf of the NHVR Board, our Chief Executive and NHVR staff, I congratulate Melinda and confirm our commitment to working with her to reduce red tape for the heavy vehicle industry, deliver consistency across borders and boost road safety for all road users,” commented NHVR Chair, Bruce Baird, adding that he looks forward to working with Pavey to deliver ongoing reform to heavy vehicle safety and productivity.
“Duncan had a passion for the heavy vehicle industry and that showed with his support for a national regulator and the measures he delivered to improve freight and heavy vehicle transport across NSW.
“Under Duncan’s leadership, RMS and the NHVR have worked closely together to give the heavy vehicle industry certainty whether they are using local, state or national roads across NSW.
“Duncan recognised that a more efficient and safer heavy vehicle industry would deliver growth for local economies.”

ALC releases 2017 Forum program

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has released the program for its 2017 Forum which will take place 7­–9 March in Melbourne, Victoria. The Forum 2017 will focus on the required content of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
The need for such a strategy has been championed by ALC in its election priorities document, ‘Getting the Supply Chain Right’, its video ‘Now is the Time to Get the Supply Chain Right’, and also by Infrastructure Australia in its 15-Year Infrastructure Plan.
In late 2016, the Government committed to establishing a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy following a comprehensive independent inquiry into how best to support the productivity and efficiency of Australia’s freight supply chain.
ALC’s Forum will focus on the issues that will need to be addressed by the Strategy, including nationally significant supply chains and their access to supporting infrastructure, the adequacy of the institutional framework supporting freight networks, reforms and investments that will affect the efficient movement of freight and the key bodies overseeing their efficient operation.
Speakers confirmed so far include representatives for the major ports including Port of Melbourne Corporation, Aurizon, Australia Post, Australian Rail Track Corporation, Qube, Woolworths and Infrastructure Australia. Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, and Hon Luke Donnellan MP, Minister for Roads and Road Safety and Minster for Ports, will also be sharing their insight at the event.
To find out more about the speakers attending and session topics, or to register to attend, click here.

Queensland company completes PNG bridges

A Queensland construction company has battled the harshest of terrains and conditions to deliver four new bridges in PNG’s Oro Province, bringing together communities that have been isolated for nearly a decade.
The bridges will also assist tourists making the pilgrimage to the iconic Kokoda track with access now opened up to a key starting point at Kokoda village.
Trekkers can now arrive and depart from the Popondetta Airport, which is on the coastal plain and far safer than the Kokoda wartime airstrip which is surrounded by high mountains.
In 2013, Canstruct Pty Ltd was appointed by the Papua New Guinea Department of Works to design and construct four new bridges to replace the ones destroyed by Cyclone Guba in 2007.
The Oro Bridges contract has been funded by the Australian Government, and its High Commissioner Bruce Davis and PNG Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion were on hand for the official opening at the Kumusi landmark in November.
“The Kumusi Bridge is truly a milestone achievement and an engineering spectacle that we are proud of and I say thank you to the contractors for a job well done. This bridge is a beacon of hope and a symbol of resilience for country,” Sir Leo said.
For the 176,000 locals, the new bridges will have a profound effect in how they travel across the region, both safely and effectively connecting them and businesses to the market, airport and port at Oro Bay.
Canstruct’s Founder Robin Murphy OAM says engineers and builders faced numerous challenges during the design and construction phase but none more so than the Kumusi River bridge which is now PNG’s longest dual lane bridge spanning 285 metres.
“We had to mitigate the effects of the mammoth river flow which came from the nearby Owen-Stanley Ranges as well as the tropical downpours and flash flooding during the wet season. The challenge of transporting materials to the remote sites was immense but we overcame these obstacles thanks to some creative thinking and persistence.”
The Kumusi bridge design consisted of four steel continuous girders with cast in situ concrete decks built above Q2000 year flood levels. More than 2,000 tonnes of high quality grade 350 steel was used in the construction of the bridges.
Flooding, which hit the province in February 2016 ,created a multitude of problems and despite the temporary Bailey Bridges at Girua and Kumusi washing away, the then incomplete bridges remained intact showing the high-quality design and construction undertaken by the private Brisbane-based company.
Mr Murphy said the $65 million project is a significant achievement and testament to the commitment and skill shown by Canstruct employees, its sub-contractors and the PNG’s Department of Works and the Australian Government’s Transport Sector Support Program.
“Up to 300 locals were employed on site during construction and for them to finally see the bridges being completed is a wonderful sight. Life on the province will hopefully dramatically change for the better.”
The other bridges built by Canstruct and now completed in Oro Province include a 150-metre bridge over Girua River, a 100-metre span across Ambogo River and a 66-metre bridge across Eroro River.
With palm oil the major industry of Oro Province, the bridges now provide the vital link between the plantations and export terminal.

Permit conditions for heavy vehicles made easy

More than 400 local councils and territory governments will now have access to new guidelines to better assess and apply conditions to permits for heavy vehicles, through the release of two guidance documents.
NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto said the release of two guidance documents would deliver consistency and standardise the conditions which can applied to a heavy vehicle permit.
“The Road Manager’s Best Practice Guideline for Applying Conditionsprovides invaluable directions to road managers on the types of conditions to be applied in a permit,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“Whereas, the Standard Conditions -Legislative Requirements outlines the key operational requirements for class 1 heavy vehicles carrying, or designed to carry, a large indivisable article and special purpose vehicles.”
“The Standard Conditions -Legislative Requirements will assist operators to better understand their requirements and provide increased confidence in the process.”
With these tools in use, we expect to see a drop in the number of unnecessary and invalid conditions applied and a reduction in permit processing time, benefitting local councils, state government and industry.”
The NHVR has developed and implemented the documents as a result of extensive consultation with local and state government road managers to ensure they were fit for purpose.
They aim to assist through providing a step by step guide to assessing application and applying conditions, consideration when applying conditions, example sets of standard road and travel conditions, and examples of conditions covered by the law.

Infrastructure funding needs overhaul – Opinion

Amid the mountains of briefs prepared on GST for this week’s COAG Leaders Retreat, one of the other fiscal issues that deserves equal, longer term consideration will be in Jay Weatherill’s back pocket.

The South Australian Premier will take to the meeting a bold plan to reform the federation, including long overdue reforms to how our national highways and roads are funded.

In a speech to the National Press Club earlier this month, Premier Weatherill proposed the establishment of a national heavy-vehicle road-user charging system run by the Commonwealth.

In his speech, he lamented the lack of a market-based funding system for roads, despite similar systems being in place for almost all other forms of infrastructure.

Under his plan, state-based registration and federal-based fuel excise charges would be replaced by a more transparent pricing mechanism that more closely links road use and investment.

He also offered up South Australia as the test site for different elements for the new heavy vehicle road user charging regime.

From the perspective of Australia’s freight and logistics industry – the sector to be most directly impacted by Premier Weatherill’s proposal – we believe his plan requires serious consideration by all levels of government.

Seen through the political lens, his proposal is a direct policy response to growing pressure on state budgets for road infrastructure projects.

The fact is there are growing demands on the government purse requiring the use of taxpayer’s money, particularly in the areas of health and education.

Premier Weatherill’s blueprint echoes similar calls for reform made in recent times by the Productivity Commission, Infrastructure Australia, the Harper Review and the National Commission of Audit.

These and other reports also flagged the concept of extending the heavy vehicle road reform, over time, to all vehicles, to send a more direct price signal and to help address congestion in our cities.

There is a growing consensus that the infrastructure funding system in Australia requires a major overhaul.

The key will be delivering reform that improves long term funding sustainability of key freight routes in a transparent and equitable manner.

Currently, funds raised through registration and fuel excise are smeared across the network, and not returned to the key freight routes carrying high levels of traffic.

A system where funds are arbitrarily applied across the system, with no real linkage to where the freight has come from, or is going to, is one requiring reform.

Nor is it a system that supports improved productivity levels in the industry.

Industry’s support for this reform will hinge on the extent to which it supports supply chain efficiency and reliability.

It is critical, however, that funds collected are invested in the infrastructure used by the vehicle.

In other words, the revenue follows the freight, and not lost to consolidated revenue.

ALC has long argued that funds from heavy vehicles should be hypothecated for investment in productivity enhancing infrastructure.

For this initiative to succeed, Treasuries need to drive the process forward.

Not only will it be quicker, it will be more effective if part of a broader set of reforms to change the infrastructure revenue stream.

And importantly, having Treasuries take carriage of this initiative will help to ensure a greater level of national coordination.

This is important, because in the long run, road reform needs to be national, it needs to be consistent and it needs to be coherent.

This is a reform a long time in the making.

In April 2007, COAG set out a three-phase ‘COAG Road Reform Plan’ to consider alternative models of heavy vehicle road pricing and funding.

The plan’s objective was to promote the more efficient, productive and sustainable provision and use of freight infrastructure.

Now, more than eight years later, governments have taken only tentative steps to deliver on these worthy objectives.

With studies showing the national freight task will increase by 100 per cent between 2010 and 2030, all policy proposals to improve the long term efficiency of the freight logistics network need to be on the table.

Otherwise the living standards of all Australians will be reduced.

These studies into Australia’s rising freight task coincide with a report by the Australian Logistics Council and ACIL Allen, which showed a 1% improvement in productivity would yield a $2 billion a year benefit to the national economy.

As American economist Paul Krugman said, ‘productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run, it’s nearly everything.’

ALC hopes COAG leaders has Krugman’s productivity mantra at the forefront of their minds when they sit down this week to discuss Wetherill’s reform to fix our flailing federation.

Michael Kilgariff is the managing director of the Australian Logistics Council, the peak body for Australia's freight logistics industry.

WA Transport Minister calls for comment on PortLink Project

Transport Minister Troy Buswell has asked the people in Kalgoorlie-Boulder to have their say on the PortLink project.

The PortLink concept ultimately links Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Esperance and Geraldton and Buswell said it has the potential to build a stronger and more flexible transport network.

The project will include a heavy vehicle bypass road, a freight rail bypass around the town centre and a potential intermodal terminal in Kalgoorlie.

One of the main aims of the project is to provide a regional alternative to Perth as a distribution point for interstate general freight.

The government says the new and upgraded road and rail infrastructure proposed as part of the PortLink project also has the potential to link the ports of Fremantle, Esperance, Port Hedland, Geraldton and the future port of Oakajee with the rich mineral resource areas of the WA’s hinterland.

The development of an intermodal freight logistics hub in Kalgoorlie will provide better connection to the eastern states.

With public comment on the project closing on November 1, Buswell said Kalgoorlie-Boulder should attend an information day this Saturday on the planning options for t PortLink.

“These projects have the potential to significantly reduce the number of heavy freight vehicles on local roads as well as reduce rail traffic through Kalgoorlie’s city centre,” Buswell said.

“This will result in improved road and rail safety and provide better amenity for the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community.

“There are three options for each of the road, rail and intermodal terminal and I encourage locals to have a say in what would work best for their community.”

The Department of Transport will host the information session on Saturday, October 19 at Markets Arcade, Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, between 10am and 3pm.

Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls said PortLink could open up Western Australia’s resource regions to economic development opportunities.

“One of the objectives of the PortLink project is to test the feasibility of a regional alternative to Perth as a major distribution point for interstate freight,” Grylls said.

Planning studies for Phase 1 of PortLink are being funded by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program ($5million) and the Commonwealth Nation Building Program ($2million).

Political stoush over Pacific Highway funding

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay has been accused of misleading the public after a letter was leaked by Anthony Albanese over funding for the Pacific Highway.

In a letter to Albanese in late June, Gay said the Pacific Highway had "received an allocation of nearly $740 million more than requested" from the federal government.

Albanese disclosed the contents of the letter this week after a press release from Gay’s department urged voters to back Tony Abbott in the upcoming election because: "Kevin Rudd and Anthony Albanese have turned off the funding tap" for the duplication of the highway from Newcastle to the Queensland border.

"True to form the Liberal and National parties have been saying one thing publicly and something completely different in private," Albanese said.

Gay's letter to Albanese says the state government received more money than requested because some funding did not match with "advice on actual project milestones".

The letter said the NSW government would "accept this additional allocation as a prepayment for the program to be drawn on beyond 2013-14".

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