CQU Project Management education

Project: Tugun Bypass, Queensland

PacificLink Alliance
April 4, 2011

To understand what the parties involved in Queensland’s Tugun Bypass set out to achieve for its stakeholders, you need look no further that this quote from the PacificLink Alliance Induction Book:

The Tugun Bypass is more than just an important road for this region. It has brought together friendly, determined people who see this as an opportunity to create a landmark for this region. We are passionate about creating a ‘Journey to Remember’, not only for the people who will use the Tugun Bypass, but also in the hearts of the employees brought together under the banner of PacificLink Alliance.

The Tugun Bypass was a challenging project linking the southern Gold Coast and northern New South Wales. Despite being only seven kilometres in length, the bypass traverses Queensland, New South Wales and Federal Government jurisdictions, hence took eight years to approve. The total cost of the Tugun Bypass was $543 million, with $423 million in funding provided by the Queensland Government and $120 million by the Federal Government.

PacificLink Alliance, comprising Queensland’s Department of Main Roads (now known as the Department of Transport and Main Roads), Abigroup and SMEC Australia, originally the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, began the design and construction of the bypass in early 2006, and completed the project six months ahead of schedule in June 2008.

From the beginning, PacificLink Alliance placed strong emphasis on a positive team—‘Alliance Culture’. The walls of the demountable site offices were lined with positive phrases, photos of Alliance members at work and play, and a list of behavioural principles to guide employees to create a ‘journey to remember’.

Project manager Mick O’Dwyer remarks that it certainly was one to remember: “This project has quickly become one of the highlights of my career. PacificLink Alliance [had] an integrated, welcoming team.”

Regular health check surveys indicated the positive atmosphere within the workplace, with O’Dwyer emphasising that the team that built the Tugun Bypass was just as important as the road itself.

An environmental issue

The Tugun Bypass had to overcome significant challenges including approvals from two state governments and the Federal Government, constructing a tunnel underneath the extension of the Gold Coast Airport, all while working in an environmentally sensitive area.

A team of 20 environmental specialists, contractors and full-time staff were employed to meet the environmental considerations of the project. The location of the bypass route required the undertaking of significant environmental measures to avoid and minimise impacts to the environment at all stages.

The Alliance recognised that the area known as Hidden Valley was environmentally sensitive, one of the sticking points over the agreement to build the bypass. To remedy the situation, PacificLink Alliance constructed a launched bridge across the area to preserve as much wilderness as possible and enable animals to move underneath the structure.

Comprised of two bridges, one 92 metres and the other 100 metres long, the structure sits 14 metres above the floor of the Hidden Valley. The purpose-built nature trail provides pedestrian and cycling connectivity between Tugun and Currumbin Waters.

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PacificLink Alliance
The PacificLink Alliance was a joint venture between Abigroup Contractors and SMEC Australia for the construction of the Tugun Bypass.
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