Arup and PB deliver in Brisbane



As Australia’s largest ever single investment in transport infrastructure, Brisbane’s AUD$5.6b Airport Link was always going to be a landmark project. Traffic congestion was tackled, the city’s busway network enhanced and an infamous traffic bottleneck removed through an innovative and revolutionary design.

Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup joined forces – as PBA – to deliver the design, providing technical input to the tender and delivering the detailed design and construction phase services. It was a highly effective team that drew on their combined extensive local and international skills and resources.

The Airport Link includes three separate projects: the Northern Busway (a 3km two-way dedicated busway from Windsor to Kedron), the Airport Roundabout Upgrade, and AirportlinkM7 (a 6.7km toll road including 5.2km of tunnel). Together, they represent the largest single investment in transport infrastructure ever undertaken in Australia.

Aside from 15km of tunnel, the scheme boasts 26 bridges, 15 cut and cover structures, 7km of new surface roadways and bicycle paths, 3.5 hectares of new parklands, one million new trees and shrubs, three ventilation stations and an operations control building.



PBA used more than 1,000 staff and worked more than one million hours from the starting point in November 2006 through to demobilisation from site in late 2012. Over 18,000 construction drawings were delivered by PBA in 700 packages, with a total of 3,600 total submission cycles.

The scale and complexity of the project, along with very tight constraints imposed by a highly populated environment and the need to keep roads open, presented a formidable design challenge. Key technical challenges included a difficult geological environment and intricate geometry due to underground interchange under traffic.

The PBA design solution essentially “buries” all the large, heavy traffic movements, leaving a surface solution for local movements to cater for buses, pedestrians and cyclists. Design innovations have alleviated potential noise and visual impacts, delivering positive overall benefits to the broader community.

PBA’s scope of works included tunnel, road, geotechnical, electrical and mechanical, fire and life safety, structural and civil works design and construction phase support, as well as co-ordinating the urban design via subcontracted resources. Ground-breaking both above and below ground, Airport Link delivered on its sustainability commitments and provided an economic and social legacy for Brisbane.

Richard Greenan