Pavement impact calculator aims to improve productivity and road longevity

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has launched the interactive Pavement Impact Comparison Calculator for consultation to enable road managers to understand the long-term pavement effects of freight activity on roads.

The regulator says the calculator is a state-of-the-art tool designed to estimate the vertical pavement loading impacts of heavy vehicles.

It considers various factors like different pavement types, axle configurations, axle masses, tyre sizes, and road-friendly suspension, offering a wide-ranging analysis.

The tool is especially useful for road managers without pavement engineering expertise, allowing them to assess the impacts of freight vehicles on their infrastructure accurately, said the NHVR.

It can also assist road managers in making more efficient and favourable access decisions for higher mass vehicles, potentially leading to larger trucks being allowed on roads without compromising infrastructure sustainability.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the tool will help users understand that more productive vehicles can actually expand the lifespan of the roads, because fewer vehicles are needed to transport the same freight task.

“The Pavement Calculator indicates that larger and heavy vehicles are not necessarily worse for roads than smaller vehicles, especially if they meet the requirements of the NHVR’s Performance Based Standards scheme” Petroccitto said.

“This information helps facilitate discussions between road managers and industry to achieve the best outcome.

“For example, a PBS A-double at higher mass limits and fitted with road-friendly suspensions can cause 38 per cent less pavement wear than a B-double at general mass limits.”

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia chief technical officer Adam Ritzinger said giving tools like this to road managers will drive productivity upwards.

“HVIA strongly supports the NHVR’s efforts to simplify pavement impact calculations and remove barriers to higher vehicle freight vehicles,” Ritzinger said.

Local governments, who are responsible for approximately 77 per cent of total road length in Australia, equating to 678,000km, face significant challenges in maintaining these roads.

Josh Devitt, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia’s NSW and ACT chief engineer, said the Pavement Calculator is a valuable resource for road managers with limited funding as it reduces the complexity of managing road assets, making the task of road maintenance and rehabilitation more manageable.

“This tool will assist local government road managers in making more informed decisions about the impact of heavy vehicle movements on their network, and lead to an overall improvement in road asset management activities.” Devitt said.

“The tool is based on best practice engineering guidelines and will help streamline design and assessment processes. By making these guidelines user-friendly and digital, the Pavement Calculator not only makes information more accessible but also ensures decisions are grounded in reliable, trusted sources.”

For more information and to access the tool, click here. Consultation closes on April 5, 2024.

This initial ‘beta’ release follows the successful introduction of the NHVR’s first tool, the Freight PASS last month, and the regulator says it represents a continued commitment to “empowering better decision making in the road transport industry”.

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