The ARC Research Hub for Smart Next Generation Transport Pavements, dubbed Smart Pavements Australia Research Collaboration, or ‘SPARC’, aims to advance and transform the Australian pavement manufacturing industry.
It will do this by addressing short, medium and longer term transport challenges through high-quality, collaborative research in innovative materials, smart technologies and advanced design, construction and maintenance methods, making Australia’s transport pavements more smart and sustainable. Australia spends approximately $20 billion annually on roads, with up to $7 billion a year spent on maintaining its 900,000 km road network, the highest per capita maintenance expenditure in the world.
Roads are Australia’s largest publicly-owned infrastructure, with a replacement value between $200 and $300 billion. Infrastructure Australia highlights that large areas of all four cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane) are poorly serviced by critical road and public transport infrastructure. This structure, together with more extreme weather events, has generated a substantial maintenance deficit and this deficit will continue to worsen as growing population increases demand for safe transport infrastructure networks. For the first time in history, the SPARC Hub creates a national innovation platform linking the full value-chain of universities, road research organisations, contractors and road authorities to future-proof the pavements industry, making transport pavements (road, airport, and min-haul pavements) cost-effective, longer-lasting, safer, with a lower environmental footprint and ability to adapt to future transport demands, saving billions of dollars in short, medium
and longer term.
The SPARC Hub primary aims are to:
- Innovate superior pavement materials and advance modelling and design for long lasting and sustainable pavements;
- Develop smart construction and maintenance monitoring techniques through multi-sensor data fusion analytics;
- Develop innovative pavement construction, recycling and rehabilitation techniques, and energy recovery for minimised environmental footprint and infrastructure resilience;
- Future-proof pavements by adapting to future transport demands with enhanced safety;
- Integrate traffic modelling, pavement construction and condition data for smart optimal asset management; and
- Equip the transport pavement industry with a highly skilled workforce to be innovative and competitive locally and internationally.