The story of the road

I’ve been using the photo of the road since I started telling people about alliance contracting. It is a great story.

Lawrence Hargrave Drive

The Lawrence Hargrave Drive runs south from Sydney. The original road, which you can just see in the photo, had a history of rockfalls and was finally made impassable and closed in August 2003. The New South Wales government had to move fast as the road was the direct access for several communities along the coast. It brought in alliance facilitators who quickly mobilised a team of designers and constructors. The alliance approach allowed everyone to focus on working together to find the best solution and get it built quickly and safely. As it turned out, they surpassed themselves and have ended up with a bridge that has won accolades and awards. The Sea Cliff bridge was formally opened in December 2005.

Twenty six different options were considered including tunnels, replacing the original road, avalanche type shelters and bridges. The feasibility studies, selection process and detail design of the preferred option all took place in a 6 month development period. The build itself was then completed in 19 months. If you think about how long a typical bypass in this country takes, even along solid ground, this time period seems remarkable. If you take into account that it required building temporary bridges to build the final bridges and all this over tidal water, it seems incredible.

Of course, building a road bridge is a long way from providing health and care services but I saw the things that could be common to both. People with different skills sets coming together to look at the whole, not just their part; a focus on delivering what was right for the whole project, for the ‘customer’, not trying to get the most you can for you or your organisation; an aspiration to do the work thoroughly and safely but at pace.

The Sea Cliff bridge is just one example of many successful alliances in sectors where commerciality and competitiveness are strong. If these sectors can get great collaborative working with outstanding results then I believe we can too.

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