Managing Director's Review

profile photo of Doug Morgan

Doug Morgan

Acting Managing Director of Main Roads

Transport is essential to Western Australia and our road network is critical to connect communities, grow the economy and provide employment opportunities for many.

We strive to provide safe, reliable roads, bridges and paths that benefit the community and cater for the future growth across the state.

We have seen further disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the year and we have a unique role in supporting the economy by continuing to progress and deliver infrastructure projects. With an unprecedented level of investment in road construction creating more opportunities for local jobs and businesses, we continued to deliver our works program despite lockdowns, storms and bushfires. Building and managing an integrated transport system is a major focus of the government and we are committed to ensuring our road network meets the needs of the community, industry and stakeholders.

Operational Performance

Our strategic direction ‘Keeping WA Moving’ continues to help us ensure that we deliver value as we achieved our highest expenditure ever at $2.8 billion including more than $1.4 billion invested in capital works. It’s interesting to note that only four years ago our budget was $2.2 billion demonstrating the government’s commitment to the transport network.

Investment in our roads across regional Western Australia continued with several major project milestones achieved. The completion of 90 kilometres of road construction on the Broome – Cape Leveque Road delivered on its objective to create employment for local Aboriginal people.

It was also great to see works begin on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road and the Albany Ring Road with both projects bringing substantial benefits to the south of the state. In March we saw the commencement of works on the Coolgardie to Esperance Highway upgrade which is achieving high levels of Aboriginal engagement and participation.

In his Foreword Peter mentioned the importance of the Regional Road Safety program and the excellent work that has been done to ensure the delivery of these works on our regional roads helping to prevent up to 2,000 fatal or serious injuries.

In September 2020, the Premier opened Manuwarra Red Dog Highway which has improved safety, connectivity and reduced travel times across the Pilbara. We also increased capacity and safety on Bussell Highway between Bunbury and Busselton with new lanes, road improvements and bridge construction. The opening of the Smart Freeway in August 2020 has achieved average travel time saving of five minutes and a 13 per cent increase across the Narrows Bridge during morning peak hour. On Reid Highway we have removed the last sections of single carriageway and built a new bridge linking Caversham and Dayton, greatly improving access.

In December we opened the upgraded Wanneroo Road and Joondalup Drive interchange which included three significant local road upgrades and complemented other congestion improving works on Wanneroo and Ocean Reef Roads, Dualling of Reid Highway in West Swan and additional southbound lanes on the Mitchell Freeway saving commuters 13 minutes. I have highlighted just a small component of the works delivered throughout the year and you will find more information on these and other projects throughout this report and on our website.

Improving Sustainability and Social Outcomes

Our business and support services continue to focus on encouraging sustainable practices, improving customer experience, and developing our people and their safety, health and wellbeing.

An area of focus that we have had is to recognise the need to create the capability within industry to deliver on all these works, whilst addressing those most impacted by job losses as a result of the pandemic. Through the Infrastructure Ready Skills program we have worked with key industry partners and the education sector promoting roles to Aboriginal, young and female jobseekers.

Our commitment to supporting Aboriginal participation and engagement has seen significant gains since we started our program in 2019 and we know there is more to be done in this area. We are continuing to work with our industry partners to achieve even better outcomes.

Providing lasting benefits socially, economically and environmentally continues to be a key focus for us as we have committed $5 million to the Wheatbelt Revegetation Bank program. This will provide a source of environmental offsets for projects and is part of the government’s Green Jobs Plan.

This year we replaced our aging telephony system and introduced technology that will improve our Customer Information Centre services for people seeking transport information. In addition, the Transport Portfolio’s community consultation website, My Say Transport received an upgrade, improving user experience and building on traditional community engagement activities.

I am proud of the continued work to build a diverse and inclusive agency as we released our first Multicultural Plan in December 2020. The plan identifies new ideas and acknowledges activities underway aimed at creating an inclusive environment that meets the needs of our people who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Recruiting staff in our regions is a continued focus, supporting our commitment to regional employment and particularly improving employment outcomes for youth and Aboriginal peoples. Traineeships offered in every one of our regions began in January 2021 with trainees working full time while completing a Diploma of Civil and Structural Engineering. We now have 100 development employees in our program and are looking to grow this program further.

Our safety performance is not as strong as we would like it to be, particularly in respect of management of traffic around worksites with several serious injuries throughout the year. We are working closely with our construction partners and the traffic management sector to look at how we can improve safety at worksites for employees, contractors and the public. We remain committed to strengthening our safety performance and are strongly focused on supporting our employees in their safety, health and wellbeing capability development.

Future View

In the next 12 months it is critical that we remain adaptive and that we continue to support the state’s strategy to respond to, and recover from, the impacts of COVID-19. Whilst we continue to deliver vital transport infrastructure that will not stop us from continuing to adopt emerging trends and explore the benefits of transformative technologies to improve customer experience and deliver a better more connected and integrated transport network.

This includes progressing the construction of two major projects to improve efficiency, Tonkin Gap and Leach Highway – Welshpool Road Interchange. We will also strive to make the most of our existing metropolitan infrastructure through innovative and emerging Intelligent Transport Systems on Smart Freeway – Mitchell Southbound.

Investment in our roads continues across regional Western Australia through works including the Coolgardie Esperance Highway upgrade, Gibb River Road sealing and upgrades and the ongoing construction of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road and Albany Ring Road.

While firmly focused on delivery, we continue to explore the use of technology to improve the real-time management of the network and provide traveller information. We pride ourselves on seeking ways to overcome challenges and identify new opportunities by being agile and innovative.

Our staff and contractors across the state remain committed to providing world class outcomes for our customers. It’s a great pleasure for me to be part of a team that contributes to making the road network safer, more efficient and sustainable. Whilst the last year has been challenging in many ways I want to thank everyone who has worked for, and with us, for their support, their resilience and adaptability over the last year. I am looking forward to working with you all again as we continue to build connected communities.

Doug Morgan
Acting Managing Director of Main Roads