Call for robust construction

More thought needs to go into building infrastructure that can withstand weather extremes such as flooding, says a construction materials organisation. Photo by Simon Bingham

Cement, Concrete & Aggregates Australia, the peak body for Australia’s heavy construction materials industry, is calling on all levels of government to protect local communities by ensuring critical infrastructure is built from the most resilient materials possible.

The recent heavy rain and floods in Queensland and NSW have wreaked havoc on older-style bridges, while roads are marred by potholes that are damaging vehicles and leaving drivers with expensive repair bills.

CCAA chief executive officer Ken Slattery said transport infrastructure was the lifeline communities depended on, especially in times of crisis.

“Given that scientists are increasingly warning that climate change will bring more frequent and extreme weather events — such as floods and bushfires — governments must insist that roads, bridges and related transport infrastructure are designed to withstand these events, and this means that they must be built from the most resilient materials possible,” he said.

“Focusing on resilience will help future-proof that infrastructure, allowing it to continue to operate during times of crisis, as well as reduce the cost of repairs and the amount of rebuilding required after major natural events.

“The 2019 bushfires and the recent floods in NSW and Queensland are just the latest examples of the havoc extreme weather events can play on the infrastructure that local communities rely on.

“That’s why governments need to step up and ensure that when we’re building roads and bridges for the future, that they are made from materials that are the most robust and resilient so that they can withstand whatever nature throws at them.”

Mr Slattery said before local councils, state and federal governments signed off on infrastructure projects, they must satisfy themselves that they were designed with resilience in mind and constructed with the most robust and resilient materials available.

“They should be asking, ‘how can we make this road resilient, so it doesn’t end up potholed or even washed away after days of heavy rain’,” he said.

“Similarly, when it comes to building bridges, they must be built from materials that will ensure the bridge is still standing even if it ends up being completely submerged by floodwaters.”

Mr Slattery said resilient infrastructure meant better access for emergency service workers, food supplies and medical care to local communities hit by natural disasters or extreme weather events.

“These intense fires and floods are going to keep happening; the evidence for that is becoming clear.

“Anything we can do to help communities better withstand these intense weather events of the future will help save lives and allow our communities to bounce back faster.”