Road Condition and Expenditure Data

This project builds on previous Ministerial commitments under Heavy Vehicle Road Reform for road agencies to annually share data on road condition and expenditure.

This project contributes to our understanding of many enduring questions for freight, including:

  • What and where are the physical and regulatory bottlenecks and barriers for the efficient and safe movement of freight?
  • How well are Australia’s freight transport networks performing?
  • How do the costs of Australia's supply chains compare with international competitors?
  • What and where are the opportunities for freight movements to be more efficient and safe?

The purpose

Road condition is an important indicator of the quality of a road. Rougher roads cost truck operators more because of higher fuel consumption, tyre wear and maintenance costs.

Understanding these impacts is important to road managers. The numbers and types of vehicles using a road, as well as vehicle operating cost models assist in the prioritisation of road investment projects when calculating their costs and benefits.

This insight shows the International Roughness Index (IRI) values gathered at 100 metre intervals on the roads managed by state and territory governments. There are around 50 more road quality attributes shared as open data ‘Asset Registers’ by state and territories, as part of the foundations for Heavy Vehicle Road Reform. Currently there is only two years of data, so long-term trends cannot be derived, however, the value of this data will build over time. The heavily manual data sharing process will also be streamlined over time to create savings on effort, and the quality and timeliness of the data will be improved.

State and territory governments have been working together with the Australian Government since 2015 to create nationally consistent, annually updated road Asset Registers and Expenditure Plans. We have established successful 'proof of concepts' on this complex data set, and an early framework for sharing more open information about road assets, service level standards, and spending across jurisdictions. This is linked with the Austroads Road Data Standard strategic project.

The current insight on the Freight Data Hub website uses data on Australian Government infrastructure expenditure taken from the ‘Interactive Project and Mapping Service’ (IPAMS). This is in the place of Expenditure Plans data, because it is not currently easily translated to an interactive map format.

Maintaining and supporting projects focused on continuous improvement in road data quality, openness, and sharing arrangements will be critical to support future reform goals and improved road transport outcomes generally.

Road condition technical specification

Road managers receive data collected using a Laser Profiler on the roughness, rutting and texture condition of roads. GPS provides the location and this is split into 100m road segments in the Asset Registers. This very detailed information about the road asset inventory and condition, is valuable for many purposes including maintenance planning, safety research and investment prioritisation.

The potential for this project is to create a nationally harmonised road condition dataset, and instigate common data storage practices for efficient integration by recommending categories for consistent road roughness data collection. This will save effort by supporting state and territory governments in enhancing and harmonising reporting of road roughness data. For example, several current manual reports on roads could be combined into a single automated data sharing exercise for each state and territory, including reports supporting the HVRR Asset Registers, Local Government Financial Assistance Grants, and National Land Transport Network maintenance spending. Further engagement with state and territory governments is needed to deliver these data sharing and quality improvements.

Limitations for road condition

  • The data provided by the state and territory governments is currently inconsistently reported. The National Freight Data Hub has cleansed the data to facilitate the creation of geospatial visualisations.
  • Only two years of data is currently reported. However, more roads were added to the dataset by the Northern Territory and South Australia in 2018. There is no data for Victoria in 2018.

About the data

Road condition
  • Dataset name: Road condition.
  • Data owner: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications sourced from state and territory governments road asset registers.
  • Geographical coverage: State Roads and Federal Highways.
  • Date range: 2017 to 2018.
  • Frequency: Annual.
  • Description: State and territory governments measure road roughness which effects ride quality and vehicle operating costs. Governments are working together to harmonise asset reporting data across jurisdictions and the outcomes of this work will inform future refinements of the Asset Registers and Heavy Vehicle Infrastructure Ratings.

Australian government spending
  • Dataset name: Australian Government expenditure on roads.
  • Data owner: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications - Interactive Project and Mapping Service (iPAMS).
  • Geographical coverage: Australia wide.
  • Date range: 2004 to previous week.
  • Frequency of update: Weekly.
  • Description: Funding for road projects under Infrastructure Investment programmes administered through the Department of Infrastructure.