Network Optimisation Framework, Reference Guide and Solution Assessment Tool
Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland)
Enduring question 3.5
How do we encourage network optimisation solutions to ensure transport network infrastructure use is optimised before major infrastructure investment?
Assessing value for money for road and other infrastructure investments.
Balancing growing network demand and meeting customer expectations within a constrained funding environment requires government organisations to find greater efficiencies and improved reliability from existing infrastructure assets.
In the case of the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), network optimisation solutions aim to improve performance by increasing the capacity of, or demand for, elements of our current transport network, without delivering major infrastructure.
Recognising the benefits of network optimisation solutions, TMR has developed the framework to prioritise its consideration within its existing planning activities.
In delivering the right infrastructure at the right time, TMR's planning and investment processes should prevent or defer costly new projects where viable alternatives exist. Low-cost and non-infrastructure solutions are not always suitable investment options. However, the framework is designed to ensure that TMR's decision-making processes actively consider all opportunities to extend the life of existing assets before capital expenditure is allocated to build new infrastructure.
This thinking is reflected in both the Australian Infrastructure Plan and the State Infrastructure Plan, as well as in TMR's Transport Coordination Plan and Guide to Traffic Impact Assessment.
Network Optimisation Solutions include supply-side and demand-side interventions. Supply-side interventions alter the supply of network capacity, for example, by improving the management of corridors or reallocating road space between modes. On the other hand, demand-side measures influence the use of the network, by encouraging users to shift from congested modes and routes to those with more capacity.
- Provide a consistent governance framework which strongly encourages the consideration of network optimisation solution as part of any infrastructure proposal.
- Collect and document existing network optimisation solutions and provide a growing library of ready-to-implement solutions available to TMR staff.
- Establish a consistent and efficient method to evaluate network optimisation solutions against traditional infrastructure projects.
The Network Optimisation Framework was finalised in 2017 and is being socialised across TMR, with a requirement for new programs and projects to use the framework as part of the Project Assessment Framework.
The Smarter Solutions: Reference Guide containing costings and reference to national and international evaluations for 18 ready-to-implement network optimisation solutions was finalised in 2017. Since then, TMR has commissioned a number of Queensland- specific evaluations including truck restrictions, reversible lanes, public transport jump lanes, public transport board all-doors and variable speed limits. These are available on TMR's intranet site, in an on-line library designed to house this growing body of knowledge.
More recently, a project to address infrastructure shortcomings of Gympie Road successfully used the Network Optimisation Framework and the Smarter Solutions: Reference Guide to canvas a number of low-cost, optimisation solutions to maximise traffic flow along one of Brisbane's most congested arterials without delivering high-cost, disruptive major infrastructure.