MainStreet SA Conference - May 2018

17 May 2018

Paul Simons recently presented at the MainStreet SA Conference held in Port Pirie. Addressing the topic of ‘engineering considerations’ in main street developments, Paul drew on considerable real-world experience to highlight the stuff that can cost and arm and a leg that you don’t get to see in the finished street design.

The physical upgrade of a main street can have really positive outcomes for the urban environment. Ultimately the whole community can benefit from the new look and feel of the place, the vibrancy of the shopping experience, safety and walkability for pedestrians, and accessibility for all.

Improved landscaping, shade structures, integration of art, choice of paving materials, outdoor pop-up cafes, event spaces, bespoke furniture, water features and LED lighting… these are the things dreams are made of.

On the other hand, the less than sexy topic of engineering is the stuff that nightmares are borne from. Stormwater, services, pavements, kerbing, footpath grades, geotechnical investigations, CBR values, and traffic management, are not ‘headlines’ that you can sell to the community.

Tonkin Consulting has worked in collaboration with urban design and landscape teams in the successful delivery of several main street projects in metropolitan and rural areas, and is well versed in the engineering constraints and issues that may need to be considered as part of a project. These are the things you may not ultimately see, but can have a significant bearing of construction and the ultimate success of it.

Top 5 Lessons Learnt:

  1. The best ideas come through collaboration. Make sure the project team has the right expertise in working together and sharing ideas. It’s also vital to involve the community, traders and other key stakeholders along the journey.
  2. The upgrade of the street infrastructure is only part of the solution. There needs to be a buy-in to reactivation from the business community including landlords and business traders. Councils should also consider how they can make ‘doing business’ easier for traders.
  3. Know your services and utilities. It’s vital to identify known services early in the design process. These can be significant constraints to the design process.
  4. Stormwater. Stormwater. Stormwater. Think about the impact of stormwater and surface flows particularly if a shared street design without traditional kerb and gutters is being considered. Look for opportunities to implement integrated water sensitive urban design (WSUD).
  5. Don’t leave things unresolved for construction. If things go pear-shaped in construction, someone will bear the risk. 

And lastly – don’t lose sight of why the street is being upgraded. It’s about the community, place and economic vibrancy of the street.

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