Impact of Third-Party Assets on Infrastructure Project Delivery

5 December 2022

A recent report published by Austroads has delved into the effects of third-party assets and service authorities on the efficient delivery of road infrastructure projects. The report proposes a set of changes that could potentially reduce future barriers that could arise due to such assets. The study, which involved an international literature review, jurisdictional consultation, and four case studies, identified the requirements for effective data collection that can be used to develop an evidence-based strategy and action plan.

The Review of Impact of Service Authorities on Infrastructure Projects report aimed to identify the barriers and areas where improvements are required to ensure efficient delivery of major infrastructure projects across jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand. The project identified 15 high-level issue groups and provided a detailed exploration of each of these areas. The analysis confirmed the complexity and interrelationships between the different groups, emphasizing the various ways in which protecting or relocating utility assets could affect project costs and timings. Given the diverse type, scale, and impact of utility assets, there are no unitary or single solutions.

The report recommends the creation of a national minimum dataset of information to monitor third-party impacts on road infrastructure projects. Ross Guppy, Austroads Transport Infrastructure Program Manager, said that the problems arising from utility assets on major road and rail projects are “complex, consistent, and universal.” He further explained that the utility asset types are highly specialized and require expertise across the many entities and individuals involved in a project.

According to Mr. Guppy, jurisdictions have indicated that transport agencies that establish specialist utilities teams and gather utility-related technical expertise tend to achieve better outcomes. He also stressed the importance of stakeholders sharing cost information to enable value-based decisions across the entire project. The collection and reporting of high-quality data are essential to permit the analysis of past events, improving understanding, and enabling future predictions. Therefore, measurement of costs associated with utilities on projects will permit analysis of past events improving understanding and enabling future predictions.