Comment Contractor

Concerns over pavement quality

During the latter half of last year the Transport Agency commissioned a report on pavement quality in capital projects. This was carried out by Chris Olsen Consulting.

A precis of the final report will be published in the July issue of Contractor magazine, suffice to says it included this statement: “The D&C [Design & Construct] contracts struggled to produce quality pavements because the combination of less than optimum KPIs and a competitive market consistently produced thin, high risk, low cost pavements that sometimes appeared to compromise future lowest whole-of-life maintenance costs, coupled with a reluctance of project teams to make changes.”

Responding to the findings in this report, the Transport Agency has reviewed its quality assurance regime and the outcomes it delivers, and set up an industry-wide working party to further review potential improvements to pavement quality. This working party has already developed a number of recommendations says the NZTA.

National Pavements manager John Donbavand says there appears to be lack of explicit understanding about roles and responsibilities within contracts and the Transport Agency needs to be clearer in its expectations about investigation/design, construction and as-built pavement performance.

“The review has highlighted three main areas where improvements will be made. Our documentation around the client’s/principal’s minimum requirements is sometimes contradictory and does not clearly spell out expectations.

“Nor is the role of the principal’s agent clearly defined and, as the client, we need to be more explicit about our expectations.

“Finally, the pre-qualification system for our suppliers must require evidence of compliance with the principal’s minimum requirements as a mandatory requirement,” he says.

The latter issue is being addressed by the implementation of the ISNET system for the Transport Agency’s suppliers.

The Transport Agency is also considering moving to an approach to documentation improvement that mirrors the model adopted for its Network Outcomes Contracts.

John says this has the added benefit of introducing consistency across our capital and maintenance work.

“It is also important to note that while we are always interested in innovation, we must always be mindful that any innovation provides better whole-of-life outcomes and manages any risk appropriately.”

More information about the detailed recommendations will be made available once the Highway and Network Operations senior management team has had the opportunity to consider the working party recommendations in greater detail.

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