On June 20th, the NSW government announced an ambitious $72.7 billion infrastructure spending program over the next four years that focuses on 'social infrastructure', to improve the state’s health and education services.
Increased Spend on Infrastructure
One of the major announcements was a $123 million investment to revitalise neighbourhoods along the long neglected Parramatta Road.
With plans including hectares of open space, bigger parks, urban plazas and new cycling areas, the funds are set to be a first for the construction industry under the government's ‘urban amenity improvement program’, which plans to transform areas around Sydney's most ignored roads.
In a statement released to media by NSW Liberals, Chief Commissioner of Greater Sydney, Lucy Turnbull commented: 'As Sydney grows, it will be more and more important that we enhance the liveability of our suburbs by creating great spaces where people will want to live and work and are encouraged to get out and walk or cycle or relax in well-designed open spaces'.
The amenity program is worth $198 million, and is part of the NSW government's $31 billion 30-year redevelopment strategy for the area.
Other funding announcements in the budget include upgrades to Sydney hospitals, namely Concord and Campbelltown hospitals in Sydney’s Inner and South West, as well as Randwick’s Prince of Wales hospital in the East.
In addition, 26 new schools will be built across the city to help cope with rapid population growth, including schools in Catherine Field, Penrith and Sydney Olympic Park. The NSW capital hit the five million people mark in mid-2016, a growth of a million people in just 16 years.
For the city’s roads and transport, spending includes $4 billion over four years for the development of the Sydney Metro Northwest to improve transport in the area. Meanwhile, roads in Western Sydney will receive a $1 billion upgrade in a bid to improve the city’s ‘growth roads’.
Challenges in the Industry
This level of investment demonstrates the government’s acknowledgement of infrastructure as essential to NSW’s success and growth on a global scale. However, critical existing projects like the George St Light Rail continue to be repeatedly delayed.
Light rail work along George Street began more than 18 months ago, shutting off parts of the CBD’s busiest street to traffic and causing chaos for commuters. Despite the disruptions to the city, the project has failed to meet deadlines, and despite an extension last year, seven out of 10 zones reportedly failed to meet the latest completion dates.
The delays are said to be caused by the discovery of approximately 1000 unexpected underground services and utilities.
Transport for NSW's coordinator general Marg Prendergast told AAP, 'the complexity of what we've encountered underneath the ground has required design changes to accommodate these finds, resulting in the need to negotiate with stakeholders about matters including stormwater, gas, power and stop designs'.
How Tech Can Help
Whilst infrastructure is at the forefront of NSW’s innovation agenda, this new investment from the NSW government should encourage the adoption of new strategies to help deliver citizens desperately needed infrastructure and services on time, and within budget.
When allocating the funding, the industry needs to recognise that innovative technology is the way forward, and is now recognised as vital to making sure that projects are run smoothly, on budget and within schedule.
While real-time information can help construction businesses optimise productivity as projects are happening, data captured from completed projects or on a project so far, can enable construction professionals to predict how to make further optimisations moving forward.
Strategic use of data can not only cut costs and enable large-scale projects to be completed more efficiently, it can also create safer jobsites.
This will allow critical funding to be spent in the right places, encouraging further growth to meet Sydney’s growing infrastructure demands.