The Pacific Highway Upgrade Program is possibly the largest road infrastructure project undertaken in the history of New South Wales. Resource Design & Management (RDM) has been fortunate to be part of this project through the provision of professional surveying services to the NSW Roads & Maritime Services (RMS) for a range of tasks including detail ground surveys, cadastral surveys, underground utility surveys, control surveys, aerial mapping and a range of related tasks.
The NSW Minister for Planning approved the Glenugie Upgrade project in December 2009. The seven (7) kilometre upgrade forms part of the larger Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade project. The Glenugie Upgrade winds its way through the Glenugie State Forest, some 20 kilometres south of Grafton.
RDM were requested by the RMS to undertake the acquisition survey in June 2013, almost two (2) years after the project was completed and opened to traffic. The survey was to define the land to be acquired, for the purposes of the Roads Act 1993, from the Glenugie State Forest for the highway upgrade.
The existing Pacific Highway and an adjoining road, Lookout Road had never been surveyed for the purpose of defining their extents, such roads are termed “undefined” public roads. Through extensive plan and title searches it was determined that both roads were “undefined” and were simply defined by a fixed width over their existing formation. In other words, the road’s location is simply where the physical road is located.
With respect to Lookout Road it became apparent that the road’s location was significantly different to its original position as shown in the historic records, in fact, the road was located some 500 metres away from its original plotted position. This raised significant issues as there was no precedent for such a situation. The question was ~ can a road move 500 metres from its original position and still be considered the same road?
Due to the particular complexities of the project, RDM had to apply a sound methodology combined with a creative approach to achieve an appropriate solution. Reference material relating to “undefined” public roads was almost non-existent and certainly did not discuss the above situation.
RDM determined that the new location of Lookout Road should be adopted for the purpose of acquisition provided there was clear evidence that the original road had been abandoned. As the new highway upgrade had been completed there was no physical evidence of the road’s location. Historical photographs from the RMS’s Gipsi Scan project became the only reliable pre-construction photography to confirm the road had in fact been abandoned from its original plotted position.
The project won the NSW Surveying & Spatial Science Award in 2013 for Rural Surveying and Land Titling as it demonstrated the important and critical skills of the surveyor in determining rural boundaries through a process of research and investigation, to come up with a justifiable solution to a complex rural cadastral problem.