Auckland motorway alliance celebrates first birthday

It is one year since the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) launched an innovative alliance that is transforming the way in which Auckland’s 220 kilometres of motorway network is maintained and operated.

Alliance_4.jpgAlong with, and led by the NZTA, the Auckland Motorway Alliance (AMA) comprises Fulton Hogan, Opus International Consultants, Beca, Resolve Group and Armitage Systems. It holds a 10-year contract to maintain Auckland’s motorway network for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of people who use it each day. Its remit is to provide a “pleasant motorway network which users can use with confidence, knowing that they will get to their destinations safely, quickly and comfortably”.

At the heart of the new alliance arrangement was NZTA’s desire to improve the experience of customers and to provide an integrated, responsive and sustainable service. NZTA sought partners who demonstrated not only technical competence, but also displayed the cultural and relationship attributes required to deliver excellence though this new model.

The AMA’s emphasis is on delivering excellent customer service through innovation and by challenging the traditional way of doing things. Key drivers include the reduction of deaths and serious injury, crashes, delays and long-term maintenance costs.

The AMA’s appropriately located Greenlane head-quarters (with a view to die for if you’re a traffic manager) looks out over Greenlane Interchange and the country’s busiest motorway. It is home to some 60 members of staff and there is also a field crew of around 70.

AMA one year on

Alliance_2.jpgThe last 12 months have seen the AMA grapple with the challenges of integrating six cultures and a myriad of operating systems into a happy whole while progressing towards its strictly enforced key performance indicators.

It is now successfully carrying out key tasks such as:

  • Being a friendly first point of call for customers;
  • Day to day operations;
  • Routine maintenance;
  • Traffic management;
  • Environmental management;
  • Renewal work;
  • Minor safety work;
  • Research and development.

It’s all about teamwork

Within its first year, the Alliance has created four operating teams – delivery, asset, environmental and traffic operations.

The delivery team is responsible for the design and delivery of all work, including incident response and traffic management for maintenance projects. It looks after more than 150 major structures across 20 kilometres of motorway from bridges to barriers to culverts and viaducts. Pavement maintenance includes approximately 250,000 square metres of resurfacing and eight to 10 lane kilometres of pavement repair.

The average monthly expenditure for the delivery team is around $3 million. Special projects include safety improvements (signage, line marking and guardrails), installing noise walls and enhancing the look of the network through new planting programmes.

Much of the delivery team’s work is completed at night to limit the impact on road users. Routine work such as litter collection, cleaning and vegetation control is done continuously to keep the network looking pristine.

Graffiti control costs in the order of $750,000 annually. Offensive tagging gets the highest priority with the objective of removing it within 24 hours of it appearing.

Alliance_1.jpgManaging the movements of the Auckland Harbour Bridge lane barrier machine is perhaps the delivery team’s most visible job, carried out four times a day in front of up to 200,000 passing motorists.

The asset team is tasked with managing the NZTA’s assets to meet customer needs, at the same time as delivering value for money.

Long term, the objective is to maintain and improve assets. Assets include signage, barriers, fences, noise walls, stormwater systems and bridges. They are managed via a comprehensive database developed and maintained by the alliance.

While the entire AMA staff is tasked with environmental management, it is the particular responsibility of the environmental management team to manage the effect of the motorway on its surrounding areas and promote a high level of environmental awareness. The long-term goal is to enhance the environment through careful stewardship. Specifc tasks include pest removal, air quality monitoring, maintaining wildlife habitats and developing a compliance reporting system.

The AMA manages around 50 resource consents and the hundreds of conditions that relate to the networks operation, including those for stormwater, wastewater and noise.

Alliance_3.jpgThe traffic operations team is responsible for traffic management. Effective traffic management is essential for public safety and convenience. More than 1.5 billion kilometres per year are travelled on the network on weekdays.

An innovation of the new model is including traffic management (delivered through the NZTA’s traffic management unit), within the contract. This removes the old interface between operations and maintenance, enabling a whole network planning approach to reducing congestion.

This team’s objectives are derived from the three of the AMA’s key results areas. They are to:

  • Manage (and reduce where possible) congestion;
  • Improve travel time reliability;
  • Minimise delays due to roadworks.

The intelligent traffic systems (ITS) are the AMA’s eyes and ears and the tools used to maximise traffic flow. The traffic team is responsible for maintaining ITS and ensuring it’s reliable and available. Specialist skills are required because ITS integrates so many different technical fields such as electronics, software, mechanical engineering, ethernet networking, fibre optics and electrical. In the team’s first year, more than 40 old CCTV cameras have been replaced with up-to-date technology.

It is also responsible for collecting, validating and providing traffic data across the Auckland region from 156 continuous counting sites and 246 temporary sites that capture four weeks worth of traffic data each year.

Emergency and special event traffic management are specialist components of the team’s operations.  

Year one’s achievements in numbers

  1. Replaced the movable lane barrier on the Auckland Harbour Bridge;
  2. Developed a bridge strike strategy;
  3. Become actively involved with capital projects to make sure work is completed with minimal disruption to motorists, with co-ordination to ensure as many separate work streams as possible are bought together under one closure;
  4. Planted approximately 30,000 trees around the network to beautify it, improve drainage and biodiversity and reduce maintenance costs;
  5. Inspected 81 bridges and culverts and 33 roadside structures, such as signage gantries;
  6. Responded to 3315 queries from the public to date;
  7. Resolved around 90 percent of all queries in the same month that they were raised;
  8. Installed the largest new sign on the network measuring 24 square metres;
  9. Approved 15,000 temporary traffic management plans (the documentation required to support temporary changes such as detours);
  10. Installed 90 kilometres of audio tactile pavement markings (rumble strips) to alert drivers if they veer off the road;
  11. Introduced twin-arc streetlight lamps that last twice as long as regular lamps;
  12. Installed 30 new signs across the network as ongoing minor safety improvements;
  13. Installed new speed signs on 140 ramps;
  14. Created a high definition video of the network and side roads to analyse for improvement spotting;
  15. Cleared 70 tonnes of debris from the motorway each month including litter, furniture, and clothing;
  16. Applied 218,000 square metres of new surfacing; equating to 17,000 tonnes of asphalt.
  17. Provided 36,000 square metres of earth stabilising to avoid or repair slips.


Contractor Vol.33  No.11  December 2009 - January 2010
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