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Environment and Heritage

Whether it’s improving the safety and accessibility of the network or disposing of corporate e-waste, TMR is committed to minimising the impact on the natural, human and built environment. The department has implemented sustainable solutions and innovative technologies to protect and preserve local flora and fauna.


  • RoadTek generated 266,668 kWh hours of ‘green energy’ across its depots with a saving of 213 tonnes of CO2 emissions and reducing 92 tonnes of coal to be burnt. This equates to 3118 trees (seedlings grown for 10 years).
  • RoadTek used 64,339 litres of alternative E10 fuel in place of standard unleaded petrol. This equates to 5849 litres of biofuel (ethanol) used in place of standard unleaded petrol, reducing CO2 emissions by 13.9 tonnes (2.38kg/litre).
  • Of the 94,401 tonnes of waste generated by RoadTek, only 11,851 tonnes, with more than 87 per cent diverted from landfill with the remainder reused, recycled or stored for future use.

Reef 2050 Plan

TMR has championed a strong, risk-based framework for sustainable, leading practice maintenance dredging of Queensland ports to ensure protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

TMR’s implementation of the Reef 2050 Plan through the development of the Maintenance Dredging Strategy for Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Ports and the Guidelines for Long-term Maintenance Dredging Management Plans has set a clear approach for Queensland ports.

The development of Long-term Maintenance Dredging Management Plans by each port was a key outcome of the strategy. The department’s approach, based on consultation and building partnerships developed practical solutions for the port industry. Additionally, the approach affirmed for the wider community that the economic and social contribution of ports is maintained, while ensuring the continued protection of our valuable environmental assets.

Long-term Maintenance Dredging Management Plans

A strong, risk-based framework for sustainable, leading practice maintenance dredging of Queensland ports to ensure protection of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has been championed by TMR.

The development of Long-term Maintenance Dredging Management Plans by each port was a key outcome of the strategy. TMR’s approach, based on consultation and building partnerships, developed practical solutions for the port industry. Additionally, the approach affirmed for the wider community that the economic and social contribution of ports is maintained, while ensuring the continued protection of our valuable environment assets.

Electric Vehicle Strategy

Released in October 2017, ‘The Future is Electric’ Electric Vehicle Strategy (EV Strategy) is a multi-agency strategy led by TMR. The EV Strategy was designed to ensure Queensland is in the best position to capture the benefits and opportunities electric vehicles (EV) will bring for a cleaner, greener and cheaper transport future.

The strategy outlines 16 cost-effective initiatives the Queensland Government will implement, to encourage consumer support and uptake of these vehicles. The showpiece action of the EV strategy is the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH), a series of fast-charging stations stretching from the Gold Coast to Cairns, and Brisbane to Toowoomba. Phase 1 was completed in January 2018. A further $2.5 million has been committed to Phase 2 with planning underway. Phase 2 will reduce the distance between the existing charging locations, giving motorists more options to choose when to recharge, reducing range anxiety and allowing them to stop, revive and survive.

Other departments undertook a number of other significant EV related activities during the year including:

  • sponsoring the annual Australian Electric Vehicle Conference and Expo 2018 held at the Brisbane Entertainment and Convention Centre
  • launch of the QFleet Electric Vehicle Transition Strategy
  • development of the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Practice Note
  • leading the development of a national program of work for the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Transport and Infrastructure Council.

Waste Reduction and Management Plan

TMR continued to focus on reducing waste going to landfill in delivery of its transport infrastructure construction and operation. TMR has aligned with the Queensland Government’s waste strategy and drive to a circular waste economy where our resources and components are considered valuable and are reintegrated, regenerated and reused, remaining in use as long as possible.

In 2018–19 TMR:

  • continued to deliver on the actions and continuous improvement activities in the TMR Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan (2016–2021)
  • committed to undertake sustainability assessments for projects over $100 million which is driving trials of new products and technologies to assist in minimising waste generation
  • disseminated information in preparation for the Queensland Government’s waste levy commencing on 1 July 2019
  • updated Environmental Management Specifications requiring all departmental contractors to report waste measures.

Innovative waste minimisation projects include:

  • reuse of 100 per cent of the existing pavement by pulverisation, spreading to a uniform layer and implementing a triple blend to the subgrade to significantly reduce the amount of new pavement required (Landsborough Highway, Central West District)
  • over 20 million litres of Crumb Rubber Modified binder used on TMR reseal projects since 2015 which has found another use for 523,950 recycled tyres.

Emissions reduction plan

Transport and Main Roads is developing a Transport Net Zero Emissions Roadmap for emissions reduction across the department. The roadmap includes initiatives such as Carbon Abatement Modelling, Future Scenario Analysis and Transport Related metrics that inform the carbon reduction strategy for the department. These initiatives are contributing towards the overall Transport Net Zero Emissions Roadmap in alignment with the Queensland Climate Transition Strategy.

TMR is contributing through engineering innovations that reduce the infrastructure carbon footprint, and through Transport Infrastructure Project Sustainability ratings (utilising the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, ISCA) which encourage lower emission designs, equipment and procedures.

Engineering innovations to reduce emissions include:

  • EME2 pavements – involves the reduction in the asphalt thickness which in turn reduces the quantity needed resulting in less emissions
  • recycled Asphalt Products –involves using recycled asphalt on TMR projects, which has a lower emission potential than fresh asphalt
  • crumb Rubber – involves reusing old car tyres in pavements, which not only reduces waste going to landfill but substitutes for virgin materials, resulting in reduced environmental footprint
  • Foam Bitumen Stabilised (FBS) pavements – involves providing pavements with increased strength and resilience, leading to lower maintenance and replacement over the whole of life of the asset

An example of an ISCA project sustainability outcome that incorporated these innovations to reduce emissions was the Gateway Upgrade North which achieved an ‘excellent’ ISCA rating for design and used 10,000 tonnes of EME2 pavement to construct 1.7 kilometres of Deagon Deviation southbound. This resulted in approximately 3000 tonnes less raw materials and 26 per cent less truck movements.

Marine pollution response training program

MSQ managed and coordinated attendance at 17 specialised marine pollution response training courses as part of normal business activities. This training, which is in line with obligations described in both Australia’s National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies and the Queensland Coastal Contingency Action Plan, was delivered in the ports of Brisbane, Gladstone, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Skardon River. In total 125 people from local and state government departments and ports attended the training in basic and advanced oil spill response and shoreline clean-up operations. In addition, MSQ also coordinated participation by 46 people in other specialist incident management and media management training.

Deploying the Oil Containment Boom at Warraber Island, Torres Strait.

Deploying the Oil Containment Boom at Warraber Island, Torres Strait.

Disposing corporate e-waste responsibly

TMR is supporting Queenslanders in need and helping to reduce the impact on the environment through a range of e-waste initiatives focused on the safe and sustainable re-use or disposal of end of life ICT equipment.

In partnership with the Kingfisher Recycling Centre at Aspley—Queensland’s largest school-based recycling centre—which is helping to breathe new life into old server components from our Carseldine site office.

To date, the department has donated more than 15 ute loads of server components as well as smaller items such as uninterruptible power supplies, 17-inch monitors, keyboards and mice. Items donated to Kingfisher are disassembled by the students at the adjacent Aspley Special School as a learning opportunity, following which the components are re-used or further recycled to directly benefit the school. Disassembling electronic items such as those donated by TMR, provides valuable on-site work experience for our students.

Another way the department is sustainably disposing of corporate e-waste is through the Mobile Muster program. By donating unserviceable phones and iPads from across the department to Mobile Muster the department has contributed devices totalling more than 280 kilograms for recycling, resulting in environmental benefits equal to planting more than 17 trees and avoiding 621 kilograms of CO2 equivalent.

Pictured (left to right): Sandra Slater, Chief Information Officer; Chesley Hargreaves, Aspley Special School Principal; and Janet Born, Service Operations Director, outside the Kingfisher Recycling Centre.

Pictured (left to right): Sandra Slater, Chief Information Officer; Chesley Hargreaves, Aspley Special School Principal; and Janet Born, Service Operations Director, outside the Kingfisher Recycling Centre.

Case Study

Preparing TMR for the digital future

The department’s Paper-Lite Strategy for documents and records is moving TMR from a traditional, paper-based recordkeeping culture to one that is value driven, with digital recordkeeping embedded in the way we work. This ensures a focus on our most important records with more information available for business and cultural purposes.

The transformation to Paper-Lite is continuing with TMR in consultation with Queensland State Archives taking a risk-based and sustainable approach by mapping the department’s records into a consolidated Retention and Disposal Schedule.

A key piece of work for the department was to actively reduce the high cost and impact of outdated, paper-based recordkeeping. The project resulted in annual ongoing storage savings of $150,000.

Savings and future cost avoidance delivered under the Paper-Lite Strategy in 2019–20 is estimated at in excess of $1,500,000.

Vessel Traffic Service Operators

MSQ, is authorised as the only Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Authority to provide VTS for Queensland ports, Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef VTS areas. Delivering this service is a dedicated team of TMR professionals working 24/7 monitoring and assisting international and local trading ships to safely navigate through the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef, Queensland’s ports and coastal waterways.

These men and women, called Vessel Traffic Services Operators (VTSOs), come to TMR from diverse range of backgrounds and experience. VTSOs are required to operate and utilise a diverse range of systems such as, radar, Very High Frequency (VHF) radio, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), Under Keel Clearance Management Systems (UKCM) and meteorological sensors.

This equipment, along with essential training, provide VTSOs with the necessary skills to interact with shipping and provide timely and accurate advice to the bridge team on the ship that can assist the on-board decision-making.

VTSO are also called upon to respond to developing and emergency situations, from shipping accidents, pollution and Search and Rescue. A recent event required VTSOs to put all their knowledge into practice responding to a distress call from a recreational vessel that resulted in saving the lives of two men and a young boy.

Successful applicants undertake a competency-based training program that is delivered in accordance with international conventions to ensure that the ships’ master and/or marine pilot receives the information in a manner that is consistent all over the world. Initial on-the-job training is conducted by experienced and qualified VTSOs and consists of local port knowledge, VTS theory, VTS system knowledge, legislation, navigation skills, VHF radio communications and emergency procedures. This is followed with formal qualifications in VTS Operations at IALA modelled courses including V-103/1 Vessel Traffic Services Basic Operator and V-103/2 Vessel Traffic Services Supervisor courses. VTSOs are assessed annually to ensure proficiency and to ensure their professional knowledge is maintained.

Ant plants and rare mangroves given new home

Over the last 100 years, coastal development in Far North Queensland has reduced the niche habitat available to the Ant plants that are endemic to coastal areas between Townsville and Cape York.

The relocation of threatened Ant plants and rare mangroves species from the Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 4) project site to East Trinity Reserve was completed in early 2019. The Ant plant has a symbiotic relationship with the Golden ant and the threatened Apollo jewel butterfly, with each species requiring the others to complete their life cycle.

Around 130 Ant plants were removed from the project site around Chinaman Creek and cared for in a nursery by TMR and Biotropica Australia until the wet season commenced. The Ant plants were then relocated to East Trinity Reserve, on an elevated work platform used to install the plants high up in the canopy of their preferred host tree—the Narrow leaf paperbark. The plants were then tied to host trees with a biodegradable rope allowing roots to develop.

TMR and Biotropica Australia will continue to monitor the Ant plants in their new home while they take root in their host trees.

Ant plants being relocated while road works are taking place

Ant plants are covered in sharp spines to protect them from predators.

Case Study

Rapid Impact Compaction and Wick Drains

The Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 4) Kate Street to Aumuller Street, used a specialised ground treatment, called Rapid Impact Compaction (RIC), to stabilise parts of the project site that was previously an old landfill.

RIC was used to consolidate landfill in the area by striking a seven- tonne weight against a 1.5 metre metal plate compressing the ground to an average of 0.5 metres. The ground was compressed every two metres, with 100 locations compressed each day. The RIC equipment was used for around 500 hours and is one of only two such machines in Australia. This is the first time RIC has been used in Far North Queensland

Cassowary Recovery Team

Vehicle strike has found to be the major cause of cassowary mortality in Queensland. Recognising the need to protect the Australian icon and improve safety of motorists on our roads, TMR continues its work with an interagency and community team called the Cassowary Recovery Team.

The team is continuing to seek innovative solutions to reduce cassowary road strikes on state-controlled roads. This collaboration resulted in an advanced monitoring system for cassowary detection and behaviour analysis being deployed on the Tully-Mission Beach Road at Carmoo, which is a well- known cassowary area.

Vehicle Activated Signage were also installed to alert motorists of the possibility of a cassowary being on the road in the area.

The analysis of the data from the trial indicates that driver behaviour in relation to signage is a key issue to be investigated and should not be underestimated.

Other measures already implemented by the department on our roads include:

  • vegetation management along key roads in the Mission Beach area to increase visibility of cassowary chicks during the breeding season.
  • installation of Variable Message Signs on the Kuranda Range Road, which are being used to notify drivers of road hazards, including cassowary sightings.
  • installation of Bluetooth loggers to identify trends in driver behaviour in the Cassowary Coast region.
  • launch ‘Report a cassowary’ feature on the QLDTraffic App

LED replacement project

The LED Street Lighting Replacements Works Program is in its second year of delivery following on from the success of the works completed in the 2017–18.

With a funding package totalling $6.2 million, work to date has included multiple design packages being finalised, along with procurement packages completed for works commenced across the State in the 2018–19 financial year. Programmed works having been completed in the South Coast, Metropolitan, North Coast, Wide Bay, Down South West, Townsville, Mackay Whitsunday and Cairns regions of the state. 

This program of works utilising innovative infrastructure solutions, highlights how we are embracing new technologies, through a collaborative approach to managing the network. This is evident through the early trials of Lighting Asset Management software platforms, led by TMR’s Engineering and Technology branch in conjunction with RoadTek, with pilot installations being set up in Townsville, Mackay, Goondiwindi and the North Coast. Whilst in the early stages, the approach undertaken is at the forefront of available technologies, with testing involving remote incident detection protocols, monitoring energy usage, and examining conventions that optimise the performance of each street light pole

Road at night with cars. Street lights shine a warm glow-creating a darker shine. Road at night with cars. Street lights replaced with LED creates a brighter shine.

Shining the lights on across the network, replacing old technology (top) to thenew ‘brighter’ LED (bottom).

Fish passage installation

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for assessing potential barriers to fish movement along Queensland waterways, that may arise from culverts or other waterway barrier works. Barriers to the free movement of fish along waterways can have devastating impacts on fish and fishing. TMR has been working with The University of Queensland to develop a cost-effective and low-maintenance box culvert design, which aims to improve the passage of small-bodied native Australian fish. The idea is to create low velocity regions in water flowing through the culverts. In certain flow conditions these low velocity regions enable upstream fish passage, helping fish to access suitable habitats to feed, reproduce and find refuge ensuring ongoing productivity of Queensland’s native fish species.

Initial work has involved computer and laboratory flume simulation of various options, and it is planned to take some preferred options into field trials during the second half of 2019.

A culvert with a fish passage design, slowing water flow to allow fish migration

An example of a fish passage delivered at Puddler Creek, west of Charters Towers.

Woorabinda community

Director-General, Neil Scales, has continued in his role as Government Champion for the Woorabinda Aboriginal community, which is situated on the traditional lands of the Wadja Wadja/Wadjigal Aboriginal people, about 170 kilometres south-west of Rockhampton. The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (DATSIP) led program’s focus is on achieving improved economic and social outcomes as well as addressing barriers to effective service delivery.

In addition to leveraging TMR’s strong regional presence, the department works in partnership with DATSIP, neighbouring councils and other government agencies to progress the community’s agenda. During the year the department has proactively assisted the community with facilitating funding submissions, reconstruction of road and creek crossings, and furthering capacity and capability development via road infrastructure.

Burnett Traffic Bridge restoration

The heritage-listed Burnett Traffic Bridge, which spans the Burnett River, was officially opened by the Queensland Governor Baron Lamington on 24 August 1900. Work to build the bridge began in June 1898 by contractor Messrs John McCormick and Sons. The total cost of the bridge and approaches was £64,234, which included land purchase, engineering and supervision. The steel girder bridge is constructed with eight spans (each 51.87 metres) and totals more than 416 metres between abutments. Other features included 7.3 metre wide roadway and a 1.7 metre wide footpath.

Significant rehabilitation works are continuing on the heritage-listed Burnett Traffic Bridge in Bundaberg. The program of works involves structural repairs, blasting works to remove old paint and rust that has formed over the years, and applying a new paint protection system.

The rehabilitation works are required to ensure the structural condition of the bridge is capable of handling future traffic demand. Given the age and size of the Burnett Traffic Bridge, the rehabilitation program is significant and will need to continue into the next several years. Due to the intricate nature of rehabilitating a heritage structure, it will be a long process. However, TMR is committed to preserving an important part of Bundaberg’s history to ensure it continues to serve as a vital road link.

Heritage listed bridge spanning over Burnett River. 

Bundaberg’s heritage-listed Burnett Traffic Bridge opened in 1900 and connects North Bundaberg to the Bundaberg CBD.

Grassland SEA signage

TMR installed 173 Significant Environmental Area (SEA) signs along all grassland SEAs, roughly every kilometre, often co-located with accesses where they’re more likely to be noticed. This was after a spate of detrimental activities (such as test- driving a plough) by unknown parties. TMR has had phone calls from service providers and landholders asking about the grasslands and what they need to do in order to undertake their activities. This indicates the signs have been noticed and are providing a benefit.

Grassed field with power poles in the middle. Coloured markers on either side

The Eastern Darling Downs Blue Grass grassland SEA.