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Austroads backs heavy vehicle bridge assessment scheme

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A robust system could deliver ‘significant freight productivity improvement’

Austroads backs heavy vehicle bridge assessment scheme
The report cover


Peak roads agency Austroads has issued a report supporting the notion of a National Heavy Vehicle Bridge Assessment System (NHVBAS).

The scoping study comes as Austroads describes current bridge assessment processes as obstructing reliable and timely heavy vehicle access to the road network.

"The large range of vehicle types and masses on an equally diverse range of bridge types and sizes requires detailed engineering analysis that can be costly, time consuming and hindered by inadequate data," it explains.

The study describes what the system could look like and the benefits it would deliver, including:

  • automate and compare calculated infrastructure impacts caused by loading from a nominated vehicle with the known capacity of the structure, recorded against all the structures in the database
  • be capable of plotting bespoke networks for a given vehicle in real-time or near real-time
  • access national data for bridge structures.

Delivering timely and transparent responses to bridge access requests and queries would help resolve longstanding constraining issues for Performance Based Standards (PBS) vehicles, Oversize/Overmass (OSOM) and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), Austroads adds, and automation would help speed the highly variable business rules for engineering assessment that sit behind access determination for structures.

"Significant freight productivity improvement can be achieved through the development of national bridge assessment systems capability," the report summary notes.

"An NHVBAS can likely leverage existing capacity within the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and in certain road authorities.

"If this capacity is developed, alongside a nationally coordinated bridge data collection effort, some of the more difficult obstacles to road freight productivity can be alleviated.

"Being able to deliver timely and transparent access responses to bridge-related access requests and queries will help to resolve longstanding constraining issues for PBS access, Oversize/Overmass (OSOM) and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs).

"It can do so by providing automation, and therefore speed, to the highly variable and sophisticated business rules for engineering assessment that sit behind access determination for structures."

While the study found a strong case for a NHVBAS, Austroads notes potential issues with integration with existing systems, asset data requirements, jurisdictional structural assessment methodology requirements, and cost and governance arrangements.

Consequently, the study recommends a more detailed options evaluation be undertaken to support future investment and implementation decisions.

Austroads says it will launch a detailed options evaluation as part of its upcoming project NEF6274, approved by its board in July 2020.

The original scoping study is available here.

Earlier this year, Austroads also published research aimed at reducing the impacts of heavy vehicles on bridge infrastructure while maintaining freight productivity.


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