Delivering transformative infrastructure which provides growing metropolitan areas with long-lasting community value is made possible through the establishment of strong, collaborative relationships.

As a A$650m project, Kingsford Smith Drive was a priority project, but it is so much more than just a critical road upgrade. It has transformed one of Brisbane’s key transport corridors into a sub-tropical boulevard creating an enhanced urban design as the eastern entry to Brisbane. This is in keeping with Brisbane City Council’s vision for the city.


Importantly it has delivered significantly improved pedestrian and cycle facilities, including a 1.2km cantilevered Riverwalk, as well as upgraded access to the Brisbane River. It has also considered and met the future transport needs of a growing city and has reshaped this busy urban corridor by providing increased road capacity, improving public transport access, reducing congestion and accommodating future traffic volumes.


The 3.5km Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade is now complete, with six lanes opened to traffic in late 2020. The corridor is a major gateway to Brisbane’s Central Business District connecting with the Brisbane Airport, Trade Coast industrial area and the urban renewal area of Northshore Hamilton.

In a verification role, stakeholder relationships are the key to success. We are often dealing with difficult issues that can have significant impacts on the Contractor’s program and budget. It is important to be able to maintain positive relationships with both Contractor and Principal so these issues can be pragmatically worked through to develop, where possible, win/win solutions,”
———— Chris Demartini, Principal Engineer – Construction Services, SMEC

Local experience and strong collaboration key to success

Chris Demartini was SMEC’s Design & Construction Manager for the Independent Verifier throughout the project and transitioned to the Independent Verifier’s Representative for the completion works.

As the Independent Verifier (IV) for the design and construction of the Kingsford Smith Drive Upgrade, SMEC’s role was to independently verify that the Design and Construct (D&C) Contractor complied with the Project Deed requirements. SMEC was well positioned to provide our client with experience, capability and knowledge with many of our team members having worked on other major Brisbane City Council projects including the Clem 7 and Legacy Way tunnels.

“In a verification role, stakeholder relationships are the key to success.  We are often dealing with difficult issues that can have significant impacts on the Contractor’s program and budget.  It is important to be able to maintain positive relationships with both Contractor and Principal so these issues can be pragmatically worked through to develop, where possible, win/win solutions,” explains Chris.

“One of our unique capabilities has been to provide our client with a trusted advisor to help navigate the challenges which naturally present themselves in projects of this magnitude. Some of our specialists have worked with other major Council projects and have established a trusted working relationship with the client.  Many situations involve proposed solutions outside the normal specification requirements and our advice is often sought and well regarded.

As the IV providers SMEC are in a role which facilitates and aligns the objectives of the client and contractor. Chris said, “We are there to ensure that quality, durability and contractual requirements are met while balancing this against the contractor and client needs to remain on program and within budget.”

Unique challenges solved together

There were numerous and significant challenges on this project, with many relating to the unique and difficult geotechnical conditions.  These included very soft soils, steeply sloping rock profiles including paleo channels, an unstable riverbank and areas of highly fractured and variable strength rock.

Chris was incredibly proud of the team’s collaboration and expertise in providing solutions, “A number of these challenges arose particularly with the piling and the ground improvement works.  Significant temporary works were required, and unique piling methodologies adopted to overcome the difficult ground conditions and allow the project to continue.  The IV team was able to collaborate with the Contractor and Principal in the development of solutions to these issues and assess design, durability and verification risks.  The extent of ground movements and their effects on the constructed works was also a challenge that needed to be overcome and required timely input from the IV team and SMEC’s technical specialists, said Chris.

SMEC’s breadth of technical specialists meant that we were able to be incredibly agile and responsive to our client’s needs. “We were able to draw on the expertise of people like Andy Law and Ken Ross. Andy is a Chartered Geologist and Engineer with 35 years’ experience in geotechnical engineering. He has global expertise and is a published specialist in the fields of site investigation, piling and ground improvement and is currently on the QLD Committees of the Institution Civil Engineers and Australian Geomechanics Society.  Ken is a highly regarded structural engineer with over 50 years’ experience and has led the design of many major bridges and structures around the world.  Specialists like Andy and Ken, in collaboration with the contractor, our client and our team of contract administration professionals was key in finding effective solutions,” explained Chris.


Continuing the transformation on Brisbane Metro

As completion activities on Kingsford Smith Drive wind down, we are now well into the next Brisbane City Council major project in the role of Project Verifier for the Brisbane Metro.

Brisbane Metro is another city shaping project providing a high-frequency, high-capacity public transport system that will better utilise existing busway infrastructure. The Brisbane Metro Project consists of upgrades to 21km of existing busway connecting 18 stations. The aim of the project is to reduce congestion, create a turn up and go public transport system, reduce emissions with cleaner and greener all electric vehicles and create 2600 design and construction jobs.

The project supports a new fleet of 60 battery electric metro vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions, saving an estimated 50,000t of greenhouse emissions over 20 years. The all-day electric operation has flash charging in under six mins at end of route. The Bi-articulate design; provides three spacious passenger compartments, three large double doors for quicker boarding, Low-floor design for a high level of accessibility and three large mobility aid bays with automated on-request ramp access. The vehicles have capacity for 150 passengers in comfort and 170 in event mode.

“SMEC’s established verification team is drawing on decades of experience to help deliver the community benefits anticipated from projects such as these. The team is ensuring the Brisbane Metro project is delivered to the state-of-the-art specification requirements and providing the quality infrastructure that the community and other stakeholders expect. We are incredibly proud to help continue to transform our transport network to meet the future demand in a sustainable and conscious way,” said Chris.



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