‘Smart’ streets paved with asphalt made from recycled materials are on the ACT Government’s wishlist for a new road maintenance deal it plans to seal when the current contract expires next year.
The government has gone to the market ahead of negotiating a new contract to attract interest from the private sector that reflects best practice, is affordable and sustainable.
It says the market-sounding asks industry to identify the possibilities for the increased use of recycled materials; improved traffic and network management opportunities, possibly making use of the smart streetlights system to communicate with sensors; and any other innovations.
Last year the Government trialled a new type of asphalt made from a mixture of recycled products from a number of different sources, including soft plastics, used printer toner cartridges, crushed glasses and reclaimed asphalt materials.
“Every tonne of this innovative asphalt product will contain approximately 800 plastic bags, 300 glass bottles, 18 used printer toner cartridges and 250 kilograms of reclaimed asphalt,” Roads Minister Chris Steel said at the time.
“If we are going to build a circular economy in Australia, then all governments have to act to establish markets for the re-use of materials like single-use plastic and glass for use in Government and private projects.”
When launching a regional recycling pitch last month, Mr Steel said there was huge potential to use recyclables in roads across the region, and specifications were also being drawn up at a national level.
As well as economic and environmental benefits, the government believes the new asphalt product should last longer and be better for heavy traffic.
The government says it is actively investigating options to procure products with recycled content, and not just for roads. Also included is the replacement of timber and steel bollards with recycled plastic where appropriate, and new park benches containing recycled plastics that are due to be installed across the city in the first quarter of 2020.
The government also wants a new roads contractor to help make the road network more efficient and minimise journey delays, potentially through an ‘Intelligent Transport System’.
It says Road ACT’s Traffic Management and Safety Unit already monitors, manages and operates a suite of Intelligent Transport Systems including live traffic monitoring and Bluetooth technology, but so-called Smart City technology being incorporated into the streetlight network offers the potential for more applications, such as smart meters, distribution automation devices, environmental sensors, and traffic and parking management devices.
The Smart City infrastructure being rolled out includes the installation of strategically placed ‘access points’ and ‘seed points’ throughout the Territory to create the backbone of the Smart City “mesh network”.
Over the coming years the ACT community can expect the Smart City backbone infrastructure to be fully operational, and allow the introduction of new applications, the government says.
The industry briefing was held on 14 January and the market-sounding closes on 18 February.