Sydney Road Maintenance Improvement with a Quality of Life Approach
Sydney Road Maintenance Improvement with a Quality of Life Approach
Road maintenance serves an important role in development. Roads are constructed and maintained to serve pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and passengers. This function is vital in considering the approach to be taken when maintaining road infrastructure, this paper evaluates the condition of roads in Sydney and makes a comparison with Europe. The paper suggests a research that seeks to draw strategies of improving road maintenance in Sydney. The expected target strategy involves using the quality of life improvement approach in road maintenance. This improves road conditions and reduces traffic congestion caused by road damages and repairs.
Table of Contents
Roads are important modern transport infrastructure. Transport infrastructure has played a significant role in world development; roads propelled the industrial revolution in Europe and played an important role in significant wars. Roads allow movement of people and goods within countries and continents; they are the oldest form of transport infrastructure. They have played important roles in the development of other forms of transport and communication. The development index includes road infrastructure when determining development; countries that have thousands of miles of road networks are considered developed. These networks are pertinent to overall development on social, political, and economic levels.
Roads are essential for social development. People travel within their countries and exchange cultural ideas amongst themselves. Improved road networks lead to better interconnectivity and movement of culture within a nation. Social development is vital for any country. Political diversity is improved through improved road networks. Roads open up all parts of a country. Without roads, some regions remain undeveloped in terms of political ideology. Regional imbalance is a risky situation in any country. Roads can open up people’s political options, and propel development. Roads have their greatest implications on the economy of a country. Countries with efficient road networks have significantly better trading networks and higher volume of economic activities. Developing countries are focused on developing road infrastructure; most individuals in these countries use roads as their main transport system.
Roads are clearly crucial to development. Developed countries such as Australia invest billions of dollars on road infrastructure. Roads will continue to play a vital role in development, even though other transport and communication infrastructure have become prominent in fostering development. Roads have retained their significance over the centuries; this value will be enhanced in the future. Roads achieve these benefits through construction and maintenance. The value is drawn from their utility. This utility is enhanced through management of the road infrastructure.
Road management is an essential aspect of road infrastructure. There are different approaches to managing road infrastructure. Road management involves a range of repair activities focused on maintaining the value of the roads to the users. The approach of road management is different in every country. The process of road management affects other activities involving society. Road networks in major cities such as Sydney are busy. Thousands of cars use these roads on a daily basis. Road management involves disruption of normal road traffic during repairs. This is an opportunity cost of road maintenance. Roads maintenance often causes traffic congestion. Roads have to be closed to allow for repairs. Traffic congestion is an inconvenience to road users. Time spent in traffic jams is a waste economically.
Efficient road repairs reduce inconvenience and time, thus improving the quality of life for road users. Efficiency in road maintenance can also be measured through road durability. Roads are heavy investments for governments. They are expected to be durable. Durability depends on the techniques and materials. More often than not, the technique determines durability. The technique in this case refers to the technology and method used in the construction and maintenance of the road. Roads have to be repaired. Ware and tare is a reality of every utility, particularly one in public use. There have been drastic improvements in the technology and methods used to repair roads; these determine how often a road requires maintenance.
The Sydney Roads Services has an inefficient approach to road maintenance. The government responsible for road maintenance has failed in improving this infrastructure and raising its value to the citizens of the city. One of the problems associated with the approach taken is that it fails to address the traffic problem in the city. Sydney is a busy city with thousands of motorists. Traffic congestion is a norm within the city, especially during the busy hours of the day. Traffic congestion is supposed to be relieved by road maintenance; however, this problem has persisted despite the existence of a government agency tasked with this responsibility. Another problem arises in the condition of the roads. Roads in Sydney are in a poor state. They are characteristic of multiple potholes and patches. This problem fuels the traffic congestion within the city.
The approaches taken by the road maintenance authorities are inefficient. There is a need for improvement. Improvements in the Sydney road maintenance approach has to arise out of research and case studies. Authorities have to involve knowledge and techniques used in other parts of the world. The essence of world connectivity is that different countries can borrow ideas from each other. Road maintenance takes place across the world. Some developed and developing countries have practiced effective road maintenance. For instance, Europe road networks are efficiently maintained and Chinese road networks have exhibited tremendous improvements.
This is an evaluation of the condition of Sydney roads, their maintenance, and a comparison of industry standards. The proposal given is an effective solution to the problem of road maintenance in Sydney. Europe’s approach is effective and focuses on improving quality of life.
Purpose of the Study
This study focuses on the inefficient road maintenance practices in Sydney. Sydney is a large city and involves a considerable size of road network. Maintaining this road network has been a challenge to the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and associated parties. The roads are characteristic of potholes and heavy vehicle traffic. The approach in Sydney is inefficient and not practical. The fix is in Europe. European road networks are efficiently managed through a series of activities focused on enhancing users’ quality of life. The research problem entails the poor condition of Sydney roads and the inefficient maintenance system in place.
The first objective of this research is to evaluate the problems facing Sydney road maintenance. Varied aspects affect Sydney roads. Road maintenance should relieve the congestion; but the application of maintenance techniques does not result in a better roads.
The second objective of this research is to carry out a comparison between Sydney roads and European roads. This comparison will entail the physical and procedural levels of road maintenance. The physical comparison entails evaluation of techniques used by each country to repair roads and extend their lifecycles. This analysis involves a look into the costs and time taken to maintain the road, the frequency of repairs, benefits drawn from the repairs, and the materials used in these repairs. This comparison will result in an adequate analysis indicating appropriate measures for Sydney. The procedural comparison will entail a side-by-side comparison of the process of maintaining the road. This paper discusses the procedure followed in the UK. The research will compare this procedure with Sydney’s approach to road maintenance. The procedure determines the success of the techniques. Efficient road management is dependent on the process followed.
The third objective of the research involves drawing up a plan to improve road maintenance in Sydney using techniques developed in Europe. This plan will use information collected from the study to formulate an appropriate strategy for Sydney. Sydney’s approach to road maintenance requires a change. The main objective of this study is to evaluate standards in European road management and use this evaluation to improve the road maintenance practices in Sydney. The procedures used in Europe cannot be directly applied in Sydney. These procedures and techniques were developed for the European environment; however, the European approach can be customized to fit Sydney road maintenance needs.
Proper road maintenance is vital for improved road infrastructure and quality of life. This study details the problems faced by motorists in Australia’s premier city, Sydney. Sydney is 12145 square kilometers and has 2811 km of state roads and highway, 1155 km of council managed roads, and 792 bridges. This is significantly sized infrastructure, which is managed and funded by Australia’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). RMS is a government agency charged with ensuring roads are properly maintained. The agency is involved in practical and supervisory roles. National highways and state roads are under RMS purview while local government is mandated with maintenance of other road infrastructure. In the case of council managed road infrastructure, RMS plays a supervisory role, administering funds and evaluating management.
RMS is charged with three roles. The agency manages traffic. Traffic management involves effective planning and application of technology to ensure that road users experience few movement barriers. RMS involves technology experts, engineers, urban planners, and law enforcement in managing traffic flow. This is an essential role of the agency in Sydney.
RMS is involved in managing the road network in Sydney. According to the agency, they function as a balance for the needs of motorists, freight vehicles, pedestrians, public transport, and commuters. Given road infrastructural limitations, the agency determines the most appropriate way of assigning roads to these groups.
RMS is charged with designing and constructing roads, and maintaining the infrastructure. This is relevant to this study; it connects the purpose of the study to the role RMS plays in Sydney. This role illustrates that traffic congestion in Sydney is a result of inefficient road maintenance practice by RMS.
RMS categorizes road design, construction, and maintenance into five regions:
This regional division is essential for road maintenance and evaluation of damages.
Managing road infrastructure relates directly to the utility citizens draw from it. Good governance results in life satisfaction. Helliwell and Huang (2008) research the relation between governance and quality of life of citizen. There is a two way relation between these two aspects. Good governance leads to higher life satisfaction. Governments that focus their policies on improving the lives of citizens achieve better success in improving the quality of life. The research uses World Values Survey measures and compares different international government features. The authors assume that life satisfaction is a measure of utility. Helliwell and Huang (2008, p. 595) compare life satisfaction measures with several World Bank measures of quality of government. They evaluate this measure’s relation to per capita income measures. Life satisfaction is more closely related to good governance than it is to per capita income. This findings indicate that governments have to focus on citizens’ quality of life when developing policies. Europe’s policy regarding road maintenance and practice observed in the UK indicate that the research has a significant implication to this study.
There are different approaches to financing road construction and maintenance. Private financing in Spain is a common characteristic in European road maintenance. Acerete, Shaoul, and Stafford (2009, p.26) study the policy of private road financing in Spain and other parts of Europe. Financing road maintenance is a significant issue. According to the study, the lack of public financing for roads in Spain prompted the government to initiate private financing. Financing is repaid in different ways including toll charges. The authors find that private financing costs twice as much as public financing. Private financing is guaranteed by the government. Acerete, Shaoul, and Stafford (2009, p.26) find that this increases riks for taxpayers. This research illustrates the relevance of financing to the quality of life. The findings indicate that there are different aspects to European road maintenance; positive and negative. Sydney should mirror the positive aspects of European road maintenance and avoid the negative implications of this approach.
Lin and Waller (2009, p. 459) research the significance of traffic dynamics in road maintenance and planning. The research seeks to create a model that accounts for traffic dynamics in long-term road planning, construction, and maintenance. They find that long-term planning requires traffic considerations; without traffic dynamics, road maintenance costs increase significantly. The model they create reduces maintenance costs significantly by accounting for road traffic dynamics. This research provides a basis for the discussion of traffic control and road maintenance. Sydney’s road maintenance utilizes poor methods of traffic control. Utilizing traffic dynamics prior to construction and maintenance planning could reduce this problem for Sydney.
Road Maintenance Factors in Sydney and Europe
Inefficient road maintenance approach in Sydney has resulted in low quality road infrastructure. Road congestion has become consistent in the city. There is a need for effective solutions to the road maintenance problem. The ideal situation in road maintenance involves improved efficiency and value for road users. The road maintenance agency in Sydney maintains about 3000 km of road infrastructure. The roles of the agency are clearly defined; however, there is a deficiency in the application of proper road maintenance.
Efficiently maintained roads are characteristic of low costs of maintenance, durability of maintenance measures, low road traffic, and improved transport for road users. Achieving these characteristic is challenging. This study is focused at how maintenance of Sydney roads can achieve these characteristics.
Sydney road construction and maintenance dates back to the 19th century. The city has seen progress in infrastructure development, techniques, and materials and technology used. This progress has halted in the 21st century. Sydney local government has about $4.5 billion in road infrastructure backlog. This is substantial backlog and causes deficits in the development of the city. There are inefficient practices that have resulted in this backlog over the last few decades. Agencies responsible for this have deficits in budgeting and practice.
Europe has an extensive road network that facilitates movement of goods and people across boundaries. Individual countries, the United Nations, and the European Union developed this road network. These roads have been instrumental in promoting trade and development on the continent. European road maintenance is based on an approach that targets quality of life. The quality of life of road users can be improved by effective road construction and maintenance. Effective road management results in cheaper transport costs, less traffic congestion, low accident rates, and low costs on fuel and vehicle maintenance. These are among benefits drawn from efficient road maintenance. This approach has resulted in a high quality road system in Europe. This approach could be effective in maintaining Sydney roads.
Externalities in Road Maintenance
There are varied benefits and costs associated with road maintenance. These factors are considered when decisions are made regarding road repairs and general management. This study concerns improvement of road maintenance in Sydney. The externalities are essential to this study. Governments should consider these externalities in making relevant decisions concerning road maintenance. This is a cost-benefits analysis of developing an efficient road maintenance system.
Road infrastructure deteriorates over time. This necessitates repair and construction of new road networks. Road damages are caused by different factors such as weather and climate, heavy vehicles, and low quality construction techniques and materials. These factors determine how often these damages occur.
Weather causes over half of all damages to road infrastructure. Elements in materials used in construction of roads react to different weather conditions in different ways. Climate determines the general condition of the roads in a region. Construction and management of road damages should involve an evaluation of the region’s weather and climate. This evaluation informs the appropriate approach for road management.
Vehicles have a role in road damage. Ware and tare is caused by vehicle impact on the road. Certainly, vehicle size is an essential factor in the type and range of damage on the road. Most countries regulate the use of heavy vehicles on roads to reduce road damage. Heavy freight vehicles cause potholes and other damages to roads. Consistent use by these vehicles deteriorates the road. There are different gauges of roads. Heavy vehicles are restricted to appropriate roads. Other countries restrict the load a vehicle can carry based on its axle weight. Weighing techniques are used to determine the appropriate axle weight for road use. Certain vehicles or machinery is banned from road use, since it damages the road. For instance, heavy military and construction vehicles are transported using trucks to avoid damage to roads.
Road damage is a cost of road maintenance. Road maintenance schedules and budgets are determined by damages on the roads. Road damages also contribute to the implications of inefficient maintenance. Australia spends billions of dollars on road repairs. Millions are spent in Sydney. Efficient road maintenance reduces the costs and frequency of road damages.
Road Pricing and Investment
Road infrastructure is a significant investment for governments. There are short-term and long-term benefits of investing in road infrastructure. Roads in most countries are public goods; therefore, it is difficult to calculate the short-term or direct impact of a road. There is clear evidence that roads propel development. Development economists suggest that roads improve people’s lives through the three aspects of development discussed before: politically, socially, and economically. Road infrastructure spending by government depends on different factors. Each region has different road needs. For instance, population pressure determines the demand for road transport; consequently determining the investment.
The industrial revolution saw private entities and individuals construct and maintain roads, for which they went on to charge a fee. Private investment in England roads propelled economic development and opened up regions for industrialization. Present private investment in public roads has taken different forms, with the government paying investors in long-term agreements instead of individuals being charged. There are, however, cases of toll roads in certain places around the world. This said, most road infrastructure in Sydney are funded and constructed by government agencies and departments using public funds.
Public funding covers road maintenance costs. There are few direct charges on road use around the world; however, road users pay for road maintenance indirectly. Australia laws allow the government to collect a fuel excise that is directed at funding for road construction and maintenance. This excise can be considered pricing. Road pricing depends on the cost of construction and maintenance. There are challenges in determining pricing, particularly since pricing is not directly linked to usage; that is, excise charged on one vehicle is used to develop roads that this vehicle does not use.
Road durability is an important aspect of road maintenance. Roads are primarily maintained to extend their lifecycle. Durability affects maintenance. Durable roads require less maintenance but require higher initial capital. Durability, however, is determined by other factors such as the techniques and materials used to build the road. Investment in roads considers the durability and cost. Durability is a benefit that is balanced with the cost of building the road. This comparison is made to ensure that just enough funds are invested in the infrastructure to avoid wastage. Durability is measured by thickness of the road and the materials used to construct the road. Some countries have a policy on the materials and techniques of building roads. Road durability in this case is determined by thickness.
Durability leads to other benefits, which should be considered in decision-making. For instance, studies find that investment in durable road infrastructure reduces costs of repairs such as resurfacing and improves future value of the road. Durable roads also reduce user costs; that are costs of repairing vehicles and excise charged on duties.
Sydney road maintenance authorities should consider this factor in making road construction and maintenance decisions. Durable road infrastructure could improve the condition of roads in Sydney. This could reduce maintenance costs and reduce traffic congestion caused by frequent road repairs. The benefits drawn from road durability are dependent on optimal application of durability practices. Sydney should consider this externality, when improving road maintenance efficiency.
Current Incidence in Road Maintenance
Road maintenance has improved considerably over the last few decades. Every aspect of maintenance from techniques, knowledge, funding, and materials have changed. Evaluating practices in the current road maintenance field provides relevant information to this study. The main purpose of this study is to evaluate practices in Sydney and propose improvements to the practice.
Road Maintenance Practice is Europe
This is the process followed in maintaining roads in Europe. The process includes industry standards. This section details the road maintenance process in Worcestershire County in the UK. This process involves partnerships, various methods of road maintenance and inspections. This process is a relevant part of the solution to the Sydney problem; it gives a glimpse of factors that contribute to Europe’s efficiency.
The county is adamant at delivering high quality service to citizens. Road maintenance in the UK is carried out under a goal of achieving high quality for the users. This entails using the best techniques and materials, and consulting the best experts in road maintenance. Private-public partnership in the UK is enhanced to improve service for citizens. The UK government developed a critically improved guide on contracts. All government agencies and departments apply this system. This improves overall quality of services. Road maintenance is a vital function of government. Private contractors are efficient in road construction and repairs. Their staffs are consistently trained in new techniques. The efficiency of the private sector, collaborated with the standards guidance, allows road maintenance to be carried out swiftly with minimal disruption.
Under the guide, partners work in good faith to achieve the goal of client. They collaborate with each other to meet the goals of the government. This means that partners granted contracts have to improve the quality of road transport for citizens. This step of the process is essential to the comparison with Sydney. The goal of achieving high quality service for citizens is relevant to the case.
The private-public partnership is an instrument of efficiency. This instrument should be implemented in Sydney to ease congestion. Private companies are able to maneuver challenges better than government institutions. The goal of this instrument is to enhance quality of life. This would contribute significantly to the problem fix.
Highway partnerships can improve the situation in Sydney. This is one of the features in European road systems suggested as a fix for Sydney’s inefficiency. This section has illustrated that partnerships improve quality of service. This is a tried and proven approach to road maintenance. Sydney’s improvement should incorporate public-private partnerships.
Surface dressing is a technique that uses hot bitumen and chippings to apply a layer on the road surface. This method is cost effective and usually applied in highway maintenance in the UK. Most government agencies use this technique to maintain the road surface. One of the limitations of the technique is its weakness in high stress parts of roads, such as roundabouts. The technique is not applicable in case the road foundation is damaged.
This technique functions by sealing the road, preventing water seepage. The bitumen protects the road foundation while the chippings improve the skid resistance property of roads. A heavy roller is used to compact the materials. This technique improves the road’s appearance and does not require closure of the road. Surface dressing lasts between seven and fifteen years. . This extends the life of the road.
This technique involves applying a combination of a bitumen and aggregate slurry to a road surface. A paving machine is used to lay the cold emulsion on the shape of the road. This functions in a similar way as the surface dressing technique, improving skid resistance. The technique improves stress absorption property of the road. This property makes this technique appropriate for high stress road parts such as roundabouts.
This technique involves application of the emulsion in multiple layers. This improves the quality of the road and the road surface created has a low noise characteristic. The slurry emulsion is cheap, making this method efficient. The process of application is fast; it reduces the time spent repairing the road and results in minimal road disruptions. The road surface is viable for five to ten years.
High Friction Surfacing
Europe has drastic climatic conditions, which affect road use. Rain and snow can result in fatal accidents on major roads. Wet roads require improved skid resistance properties. The friction between the road and the vehicle determines skid resistance. High friction surfacing is a technique used to increase skid resistance in particularly risky road surfaces.
High friction surfacing involves application of a range of materials on risky road patches to prevent vehicle collusion and protect pedestrians. High friction surfacing is common at road junctions and pedestrian crossings. These areas of the road require vehicles to stop, sometimes instantly. Road maintenance in this case involves ensuring that risky road patches remain skid resistant, particularly in the rainy and snow seasons.
This technique is applicable in all types of roads and has a life expectancy of five to ten years. The concept has been applied in Europe and the US for over six decades. Road maintenance experts observe that the technique has helped save many lives by reducing pedestrian and vehicle accidents.
This technique is used to improve the road’s skid resistance and drainage. Drainage improvement is an essential function of road maintenance. Roads are affected by rain. Rainwater seeps into the road and causes potholes. These potholes disrupt road transport and cause fatal accidents especially in freeways. Unattended potholes can lead to sink holes due to poor drainage. Road drainage should reduce the amount of water flow on the road. Conventional surfacing improved drainage on the road, therefore, extends the roads lifespan.
This technique is applied as either an inlay or an outlay. An inlay involves removing the surface of the road and replacing it with a new layer. This approach is applied where the road surface is destroyed and cannot be repaired. The inlay is applied in urban areas where road transport is consistent and a patch of the surface does not improve the road.
An overlay is common in rural settings. Materials are added on top of the existing road to strengthen the road and improve its appearance. Some parts of the road are reconstructed before the overlay is applied. This technique uses bitumen macadam, hot asphalt, and stone mastic asphalt.
Re-treading is an industry standard approach to managing pavements. Pavement management is n important function of road maintenance. Roads are usually related to vehicle passageways. Pedestrian roads still fall under this purview. Re-treading involves strengthening the pavement by treating the top 75mm and adding aggregate and bitumen. A roller is used to compact the treated pavement. This seals the pavement surface and forms a re-vitalized pathway.
The techniques addressed here include industry standards. They cover most of the technical challenges faced in Sydney road maintenance. Different solutions are applied for different problems in the UK. This should be an appropriate approach for Sydney. Sydney’s road network is faced by numerous road maintenance challenges. Technical maintenance is an important aspect of the solution. The solution has to incorporate policy and technical issues. Policies are used to influence technical solutions. Applying the appropriate solution for road repairs reduces congestion and improves durability of the fix. Each of these techniques has advantages and limitations. These should be considered subject to the road problem before applying a fix. Efficient road maintenance reduces costs. This is an instrumental benefit for Sydney, which is facing billions in deficits.
Road inspections are part of the industry standard. Road infrastructure depends on thorough evaluation of the current situation of roads. Roads in the UK are inspected to determine points that require maintenance and the urgency of these repairs. Inspectors are trained professionals who are able to determine the road’s efficiency and identify problems affecting road transport. These professionals are trained to evaluate problems and draw relevant solutions to these problems. Inspectors then inform the appropriate department of the road maintenance needs and suggest appropriate approaches.
There are two main types of inspections in the UK; coarse visual inspections and safety inspections. In-house inspectors are tasked with inspection of major roads once a year. This inspection involves an evaluation of the freeways and pavements. Inspectors collect data on the condition of the road and upload it to a national system, which forms indices for the roads. In addition, this survey indicates the actions taken to maintain the road and their cost.
Safety inspections are meant to address safety defects on major roads. Road damages, which could cause fatal accidents, are addressed within 24 hours of their detection. The Highway Officer is tasked with evaluating reported safety concerns on roads. They use an ascribed guide to determine whether the damage is a safety hazard. If deemed a safety concern, immediate attention is given; otherwise, the problem is logged for later resolution. Different roads are assigned different risk factors. These risk factors determine the frequency of safety inspections. This frequency ranges from every month to one per year (Worcestershire County Council, 2013).
Inspections are essential in road maintenance. This approach taken by the UK is an appropriate method of protecting motorists and pedestrians, while improving and recording the situation of the road network. This approach is user oriented, rather than fund oriented. The UK set a system that prioritizes road damages that could cause accidents and reduces traffic disruption due to road repairs.
Sydney’s approach to inspection follows inefficient methods, which serve to increase traffic problems, rather than alleviate them. The Europe fix is appropriate to the case. Inspection policies in Europe address the problem of road damages and traffic sequentially. A priority system is set in place to measure the merits of road maintenance activities and their impact on traffic. The gravity of the damage is considered when determining the priority. This approach would help Sydney navigate the three problems associated with road maintenance in the city. Sydney would be able to balance road repairs, road budgets, and traffic congestion. A priority system facilitates efficient processes in road maintenance.
Emerging Developments in Europe and Sydney Road Maintenance
The road maintenance will change with technology, economic situation, social needs, population pressure, and political atmosphere. Roads have remained unchanged for centuries. New techniques and materials have been applied to the construction of roads, but the basic design and functionality of roads has been constant. Driving laws have remained constant despite changes in technology, especially in the vehicles. There is an inconsistency between the development of roads and development of cars. Cars have become more efficient and automated; while roads have remained inefficient and dormant. Some experts and visionaries argue that roads and their applications should be redesigned to fit modern society and technological progress. These emerging developments in road maintenance will influence future trends and standards.
Emerging developments have positive and negative effects. Various factors influence these developments. Despite the significance of road infrastructure, simple issues in modern society, such as political atmosphere, affect it. This section evaluates and compares different trends in Sydney and Europe. These trends affect the efficiency of road maintenance programs. The main issues discussed here include outsourcing and smart roads. These two concepts have been observed in Sydney and Europe and have had different implications to the road maintenance programs. This section compares the concepts in Europe and Sydney, illustrating the significance of each to managing road infrastructure.
Outsourcing Road Maintenance in Sydney
Outsourcing business functions has been an instrumental concept in the 21st century. Businesses have adopted the idea of outsourcing nonessential functions to outside parties, who specialize in that function. Outsourcing has been found to improve productivity of businesses, since they concentrate on the core activities of their trade. Outsourcing has succeeded in some functions of government. Governments around the world outsource functions such as technology development and weapons to private companies. Governments draw significant benefits from outsourcing certain functions. They access intellectual knowledge, that may be out of reach for them and research that is proprietary to private organizations. Outsourcing government functions is not a popular concept in some governments due to sensitivity of government services. Outsourcing is associated with privatization of government services, which may lead to discrimination of public goods depending on wealth.
Outsourcing road maintenance has benefits and limitations. Road maintenance is a crucial public service. Public goods are meant to add value to citizens. Outsourcing road maintenance may reduce the utility drawn by citizens. Outsourcing road maintenance involves allowing private entities to carry out either all or some of the activities involved in road maintenance. The extent of the outsourcing depends on government policy regarding the same. Outsourcing differs from partnerships, as observed in the European system. Outsourcing involves autonomous programs run by private entities. The government has a contractual agreement with the organizations. These organizations are then involved in all activities pertaining to road maintenance. The government has diminished supervisory powers in this case, as compared to partnerships.
Australia has recently seen an emerging trend as governments outsource road maintenance services to private companies. The RMS has plans to outsource most of its road maintenance functions. The government cites efficiency as the main reason for outsourcing. Sydney has nearly 5000 km road infrastructure. The government wants to outsource all activities pertaining to road maintenance to private organizations, which are deemed more effective. While private companies are more efficient than governments, the question is whether the public good is enhanced by this approach. Do the benefits of outsourcing road maintenance in Australia justify the limitations suffered?
Outsourcing road maintenance has faced opposition from workers unions in Sydney. Thousands of people could lose their jobs upon the implementation of this strategy; however, it can be argued that efficient management of road services will create more jobs indirectly. The larger concern, however, is that thousands of jobs are lost without immediate reprimand. Outsourcing will play a vital role in revolutionizing road construction and maintenance in Sydney and around the world.
Benefits of Outsourcing Road Maintenance
Private firms follow strict business strategies, which involve reducing costs and maximizing outputs. Governments on the other side, have no profit motive. Firms are more efficient than governments. Outsourcing road maintenance might improve efficiency. Sydney road maintenance is not efficient under the RMS. The roads have potholes and traffic congestion keeps on rising. Under the RMS, the costs of maintaining roads are high, and the deficit is almost $5 billion. There is a need to improve efficiency. Outsourcing is an appropriate way of improving efficiency. The profit motive ensures efficient processes. Less time is used in maintenance; hence, the resulting traffic is low. The firms carry out research to improve their techniques, which increase output quality but reduce or hold costs constant. The approach by the Australian authorities in Sydney and other cities will improve efficiency.
Outsourcing reduces the wage bill. Road management involves thousands of employees. Economic hardships have forced government agencies to cut their budgets. Outsourcing has been identified as one of the ways to cut costs without compromising output. Government agencies have more employees than required. Private firms are careful about the number of employees they hire. They optimize on existing employees and only hire when necessary.
Outsourcing road maintenance grants the government access to expertise. Private firms hire and train their employees frequently. The pool of practical knowledge in government is less than that in private firms. Outsourcing road maintenance could improve the quality of the road. Government employees are often complacent and rarely advance their studies. This reduces their expertise.
Outsourcing allows Sydney authorities to focus on other pertinent projects. Road management is one of many projects within the city. For instance, other transport infrastructures require attention, such as the railway and air transport. Road maintenance is extensive and time consuming. Outsourcing this function would allow the government to concentrate on railway and air transport. This could reduce the pressure on road infrastructure.
Limitations of Outsourcing
Private firms’ priority is profit making. Government priority is citizen safety and convenience. The profit motive of firms is a limitation in road maintenance. Businesses have to make money out of every project they undertake. Road maintenance projects could harbor deep-seated problems not recognizable at first glance. The approach of government in this case would involve procedures to correct the problem on the road. The firm, on the other hand, would see a problem that would cut into its profits. Priority in road maintenance is important. Road infrastructure is a public good. This means that the use of this good shall not be restricted or discriminated. Private firms’ involvement in road maintenance could place emphasis on profit more than on public safety. This contentious issue is critical to decision making.
Citizen convenience and provision of high quality services is compromised in case of outsourcing. The RMS in Sydney has illustrated disregard for citizens. Traffic congestion has become a norm in the city. Outsourcing road maintenance will lead to difference in objectives with each project. Each company has its goals. Outsourcing these core roles would subject road maintenance and citizens to the private firm’s goals. This is inappropriate for the function being served.
Unlike the UK approach, which involved partnership with private entities, the Australian approach involves outsourcing these services completely. The government has little control or supervisory role in the maintenance of the road infrastructure. This violates the law, which states that the government shall provide necessary services to the citizens. The UK governments are involved in the day-to-day operations of their road management. Outsourcing reduces the power of government to control road management. This is a significant failure in the outsourcing approach.
Outsourcing road maintenance does not follow the concept of outsourcing. Outsourcing involves allowing outside parties to carry out nonessential roles for the business. The business is allowed to concentrate on the main role. RMS’ main role is to manage road infrastructure. This role is essential; thus does not meet the threshold of outsourcing. This said, it should be noted that this is not constant and relies on the decision of the business. RMS’ role is diminished significantly if road maintenance is outsourced.
Outsourcing versus Partnerships
Partnerships in the UK have succeeded in improving road maintenance services. The equivalent of this approach in Sydney is outsourcing. The two activities involve private entities but differ in their relationships. Sydney is attempting to improve road maintenance services by outsourcing to private companies. The approach has worked with other services such as weapon construction. The challenge in outsourcing road maintenance is the magnitude of the project and the number of people it affects directly. Road maintenance is a sensitive government service on which millions of people rely.
Partnerships are more appropriate to road maintenance than outsourcing. Partnerships are governed by government policy, which allows the government to set one unified goal. Private companies collaborating with the government have to follow government guidelines. These guidelines include quality of roads and traffic management. The government can change the policy easily in partnerships. Since the programs are not autonomous as in outsourcing, government can reduce or add resources to certain programs, or eliminate ineffective programs. This gives the government an upper hand in managing road maintenance. Partnerships are less constraining in terms of contractual obligations. This is an important factor in road maintenance. Outsourcing road maintenance gives the private company authority to make decisions without consulting the government, as long as the decisions pertain to the goals of the contract.
Partnerships have limitations. Private entities devote part of their resources to partnership programs. They do not own the projects, since they are not contractually protected. To protect their financial stability they devote significant resources to other business interests, which are assured. This may affect efficiency. This problem can be resolved through measures that provide additional protection and confidence to private partners.
Technology has affected every industry around the world. As previously stated, experts argue that a redesign of the road system is necessary for progress. Some experts and designers are rethinking the concept of road infrastructure and maintenance. Innovation in the field has not applied to practical situations. Smart roads are roads focused on sustainability, perception, and safety. Smart Highway was a design involving a five-step plan to revolutionize European road transport. This idea won the 2013 Index awards. Smart roads would revolutionize road maintenance. For instance, current practice involves physical inspections carried out periodically. However, Smart roads allow roads to prompt authorities on road damages, measure the depth of the damage, and categorize the damage in terms of urgency. This would improve the quality of service provided.
Smart roads have a potential to grow into practical techniques. Future roads will apply technology to improve efficiency. The idea of Smart Highway involves application of latest energy and light technology. This road design uses light, road signs, and energy to create an interactive road infrastructure that functions beyond the current scope. The road design uses dynamic paint, which changes figures depending on the weather and road condition to indicate to the driver. Interactive light technology saves energy by shutting the light after the vehicle passes. The roads embrace innovative technology by incorporating induction priority lanes for electric cars.
This emerging subject in road maintenance improves quality of road service provided in Sydney. Smart roads are interactive and are conditioned to adjust to traffic. Future development of these roads could eliminate the need for conventional road maintenance as discussed here. Applications of this idea could involve the development of self-maintaining roads, which fill up their own potholes without disrupting traffic or redirect traffic to unoccupied routes.
A limitation of this idea is cost and time. Roads are built to last for decades, even centuries. Road infrastructure built today cannot be easily replaced with smart roads. Smart roads are costly to install. They involve the application of considerable technology and involvement of highly skilled labor. The idea is not feasible in current technological environment. There are concerns that implementing this technology could lead to higher maintenance costs. Maintaining today’s road is considerably cheap than it would be to repair a damaged smart road. The design involves considerable incorporation of technology, such as the application of induction on one entire lane of the road. Implementing this plan would face considerable resistance from workers unions, politicians, and construction companies. These would ensure that they protect their interests in the road maintenance industry.
Smart roads are futuristic designs. Their application is theoretical in the current context; however, the benefits of such a concept are real. The application of smart roads could solve most problems associated with road maintenance. This concept was developed for European road networks; this indicates Europe’s commitment to improve the quality of life through road maintenance. This idea could change the dynamics involved in maintaining roads. Sydney should consider developing a similar plan for the road network or adapting this development to its roads. Smart roads could be decade away from being implemented, but their implications can be observed.
Sydney will be faced with increased road maintenance challenges including population pressure, financial limitations, and repairs. Smart roads, although expensive to implement, could resolve these problems.
Other Emerging Issues
The road maintenance industry involves broad areas of application and knowledge. The industry is dynamic and changes considerably with time. The following are future trends illustrated by the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (2012). These emerging issues are important to the improvement of Sydney road management.
There will be a rising road maintenance costs. Materials and labor used in the construction and maintenance of roads have increased costs considerably. This trend is bound to continue as labor becomes more specialized and non-renewable materials become scarce.
Extreme weather events will happen frequently. Extreme weather damages roads. Climate change is influencing the change in extreme weather. This will be a concerning issue since road maintenance will become more difficult. This will contribute to deteriorating road services.
Oil based road surfacing will become unfeasible. Nonrenewable materials are expensive for road maintenance. Prices of these products will increase as scarcity creeps in. This is an emerging issue, which will require strategic planning.
Increased environmental conservation intervention will increase public walking, cycling and public road transport. This trend might emerge out of increased fuel costs.
Resource shortages will become more prominent. This will necessitate the use of new techniques to reduce resource use or replace them efficiently.
Freight vehicles damage roads. They are increasing in size and weight. This could cause considerable damage to road infrastructure. Freight vehicles should be logically discussed and a cost benefit analysis carried out.
Implication of the fix to Sydney
Sydney has considerable road maintenance problems. There are different approaches to solving these problems. Solving these problems will require considerable resources. Applying this fix will cause changes in other areas of theory and practice. This section elaborates the implications of this implementation to other theoretical and practical areas.
Extending Current Knowledge
There are multiple ways this project contributes to the knowledge pool. The project approaches the problem of traffic congestion from road maintenance perspective. There are multiple causes of road congestion. Road maintenance contributes to slow movement of vehicles and disruption of traffic during roadwork. Sydney’s current situation calls for improvements. Sydney is a metropolitan city in Australia with about 5000 km of road network. The network is inefficiently managed. For this project to be effective, it is important to understand the problems facing road management in Sydney.
The scope of the implementation covers the solution offered by RMS for road maintenance. The current fix in road maintenance is an essential aspect of the study. Few proposals have been drawn to improve road maintenance in Sydney. Understanding the demands of the city road network, and the fixes offered helps evaluate the problem or inefficiency with the fix. The solution to the problem cannot be 100% effective or efficient. Improvement of the service is the important factor.
The project looks into the practice of the European agencies in road maintenance. Europe’s approach to road maintenance follows a common goal of improving the life of commuters. The quality of life is a measure that provides relevant incentive for any development goals. This incentive is used to improve road maintenance in Europe. Every partnership, technique, or employee focuses on improving the quality of life of the user. This approach has improved the European road network. The project will contribute to the knowledge base behind this philosophy.
Improved Practice in the Field
This project is an improvement of the practice in Sydney. Implementing the proposed fix contributes to practice in the field. Other projects can use the elements of this project to improve practice. The project will evaluate the problems Sydney faces and suggest methods to alleviate these problems. This solution can be applied in Sydney, and other similar cities. Cities across Australia are faced with similar problems in road infrastructure. Drawing suggested practice improvements could be used in other contexts. The context would change but parameters would not significantly change. The project can be used as a reference for service improvement across Australia.
Change Prevailing Beliefs
Current practice in road maintenance is Sydney follows a philosophy of maintaining roads at the discretion of authorities. Availability of funding is used to determine when road maintenance activities are carried out. This approach has become common belief among individuals involved. This research seeks to change this belief. The European approach involves changing the quality of life. The system is set to honor other factors such as resource allocation, but efficiently utilizes available factors to maintain roads systematically, starting with the most affected areas. This approach leads to an improved road network.
Sydney is taking the outsourcing route to improve efficiency. The suggested approach is partnership. Outsourcing improves efficiency but has a number of other effects such as compromised citizen safety. Businesses are profit driven. In case of an under budget they cut costs by buying cheaper materials and employing less workers. This has an impact on the quality of the road. Partnership, on the other hand incorporates government involvement in private road maintenance. The government plays a supervisory role and protects the public interest.
The incorporation of new solutions and approach to managing roads challenges current practice. Techniques and methods that have built monumental road infrastructures are challenged by this research. Improvement can only occur where the affected party can abandon common practice and use new approaches. The emerging techniques discussed here indicate that progress only occurs when prevailing beliefs are challenged.
Roads form an important link between people and foster social, political, and economic development. Roads are responsible for the development of most countries around the world. Despite other transport infrastructure becoming dominant, roads have maintained their role as the most used transport infrastructure. Billions of dollars are invested every year in the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure. Developed countries have wide road networks, which facilitate economic development.
Sydney is an excellent city in Australia. The Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) is responsible of about 5000 km of road maintenance and funding. Billions of dollars are spent maintaining roads in the city; however, roads in Sydney are inefficiently maintained. There are potholes and traffic congestion on roads. This is an inappropriate situation for a city of its status. There are numerous problems facing the RMS in this region. Their approach to maintaining roads has no consideration for public good.
The European road network harbors characteristics that could benefit Sydney in improving road maintenance. European road maintenance involves a strategy that focuses on improving users’ quality of life. This approach defines every aspect of the process followed. Resource allocation, inspection, and road repairs are carried out with quality of life in mind. This approach allows road maintenance authorities to balance between road repairs, traffic congestion during repairs, and technique used in the repair.
This paper has illustrated that the European road industry is experiencing revolutionary changes. Smart Highways are designed to improve sustainability, perspective, and safety. The study proposed in the paper seeks to draw precise lessons from the European case and apply them in the Sydney case through strategy. Sydney road maintenance should use the user-focused strategy to improve citizens’ lives through efficient road maintenance.
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