With assistance from Repurpose It and Eastern Plant Hire, the North Eastern Program Alliance coordinated a resource recovery program on major Victorian level crossing removal projects.
Victoria’s biggest ever program to remove 50 dangerous level crossings began in 2015, with a goal of improving safety and congestion in the growing state.
Reducing congestion across the busy suburbs of Melbourne led to the establishment of multiple consortiums to remove the crossings, including the North Eastern Program Alliance, the North Western Program Alliance, the Western Program Alliance and the Southern Program Alliance.
The North Eastern Program Alliance, led by alliance members Laing O’Rourke, Fulton Hogan, Jacobs, Metro Trains Melbourne and the Level Crossing Removal Authority, saw the removal of the Grange Road level crossing in Alphington, the Lower Plenty Road crossing in Rosanna and a track duplication between Heidelberg and Rosanna.
In a bid to improve the lives of the Victorian community, the alliance maintained a sustainability policy and ensured its stakeholders managed their environmental risks.
As the nominated disposal site, Repurpose It collaborated with the North Eastern Program Alliance and its logistics provider Eastern Plant Hire in charge of haulage and disposal. Repurpose It and Eastern Plant Hire worked across the Alphington, Rosanna and Heidelberg duplication track projects earlier this year.
Bulk excavation works were performed under occupation to remove the level crossings and facilitate the realignment of the new railway line, with alternative bus routes in place to ensure minimal community disruption. The resulting disposal and recovery of green waste, vegetation, rail ballast and construction and demolition waste generated from the project was conducted in just under 30 days.
Bulk excavation works were completed after Easter, with more than 80,000 cubic metres of spoil generated and removed across the three sites. During the occupation, the project ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As such, there were upwards of 400 truck movements per shift.
Repurpose It was the only disposal site for the spoil generated across the three projects, with disposal at its Epping site beginning on 17 March and concluding just after Easter.
One of the company’s directors, George Hatzimanolis, says the objective on its side of the project was to recover as many of the materials generated from the excavation as possible.
He says managing the logistics of 400 trucks arriving at its Epping site in a single shift was an obstacle that was overcome with appropriate policies. In order to meet its objective to complete the task in as short a timeframe as possible, Repurpose It had to ensure its sites were wet-weatherproof, with materials stockpiled and stored in a manner to minimise cross contamination.
“It took a lot of site preparation in terms of having receivable areas, with some periods of significant rainfall. Part of the challenge was ensuring we had wet weather access roads and adequate lighting as the safety of all our staff and contractors remained paramount in our operational approach,” George explains.
“There were no occasions throughout the project where we weren’t able to receive the volume of trucks that we had scheduled and there were no safety or environmental incidents during the project.”
Thom Chrystiuk, General Manager of Eastern Plant Hire, says Repurpose It was chosen as the disposal site due to its commitment to resource recovery, close proximity to the project on the fringe of the inner suburbs, direct access from the Hume Highway and ability to continue operations in all weather conditions.
The company’s 24/7 hours of operation was also a key factor, as Eastern Plant Hire transported the materials using tandem tippers and truck and dog combinations.
“One of the key things with these rail projects is they have a defined start and end time and anything that goes over that incurs a significant cost to the contractor,” Thom explains.
“Rain, hail or shine, Repurpose It was required to keep their site open and operable to ensure they were able to receive materials, which provides a level of security for us and the project as well.”
Thom says one of the main challenges was the fact that Repurpose It was receiving spoil from multiple projects with a variety of head contractors, creating possible confusion about what was sent and from who.
In order to distinguish contaminants from non-contaminants, a series of specifications were developed with materials photographed by material type.
Repurpose It’s weighbridge staff were trained to follow the agreed specification to ensure materials were logged before disposal.
Thom says alignment with the specifications was crucial, as multiple loading locations throughout the project meant a variety of materials with varying contaminant levels at any one time were reaching the weighbridge. He says this meant ensuring clarity between Repurpose It, Eastern Plant Hire and its clients and team on site, ensuring stakeholders knew the difference between sending out a clean load and one mixed with waste.
Eastern Plant Hire also ensured any materials that were transported aligned with environment protection authority guidelines, with clean fill reports and soil documentation developed by its clients.
Thom says photographic evidence of each load also ensured accountability for trucks that were documented as clean loads, but needed to be billed as mixed fill.
For example, there were two different grades of rail ballast, including clean ballast sent off for reuse and contaminated ballast. Clean ballast did not have any debris from the rail line, such as steel, sleepers, reinforcement and pipes.
The contaminated ballast remains at Repurpose It’s Epping site, where it will be scrubbed and cleaned in the company’s construction and demolition washing plant, slated for completion in November.
Once the materials are clean, they will be sent out to other level crossing removal projects later this year.
Green waste and vegetation have been converted to mulch, with some of the top soil and mud stone recovered and to be used on other construction projects. The excavated rock will be crushed and reused in aggregate and road base for other major construction projects.
Level crossing removal and major rail occupations typically involve removing large quantities of track and ballast at the front end of the 44-day, 24-hour construction period.
Damien Bergstrum, North East Program Alliance Senior Project Engineer, says it was a significant benefit to be able to recover the materials and return them back to the market.
“The main thing for us was to have 24-hour access to tips so we can get rid of the materials as quickly as possible and Repurpose It was certainly able to keep up with the volume,” Damien says.
“Their availability to work with us and Eastern Plant Hire and manage the backend of the tip site has led to a smooth service.”
Damien says having stakeholders engage with companies like Repurpose It early in the process is important for future level crossing projects, as this well help boost the resource recovery of materials generated on site.