The Monash University has acquired Australian Research Council (ARC) funding to establish and operate the ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) for Smart Next Generation Pavements, dubbed as Smart Pavements Australia Research Collaboration (SPARC) Hub.
SPARC aims to advance and transform the Australian pavement manufacturing industry 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 $30.25 billion annually on roads (BITRE, 2019), 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.