Economic Network Planning

Combining the very best in Economic and Asset Management

Southland District Council  |  Invercargill, Southland



MWH lead a the development of a strategic road network plan to establish a more strategic approach to managing Southland District Council’s transport related activities.

Project Scope

The project required that the Southland District Council needed to be able to consciously decide future investment in transportation to ensure sustainability during a time of economic downturn and future funding volatility.

The Southland District Council engaged MWH Global to develop an approach to optimise investment across their entire transportation network which includes:

  • 5000km road network
  • 1000 bridges
  • and 700km state highway network.

Southland Road Network (km)


Southland State Highway Network (km)

Project Challenge

The Southland District Council identified they required an economic network plan to strategically reset their roading network to be economically fit for purpose. The Strategic Transport Manager also identified that the Council needed to consciously decide the future investment in transportation to ensure sustainability during a time of economic downturn and future funding volatility.


 Project Solution / Result

The achievement of outcomes, rather than investment solely in asset preservation and funding, was the focus of the work, along with ensuring the local community, commercial operators, ratepayers and users of the network received the level of service they needed when required.

A creative asset management approach was used to sweat the asset and roading network rather than attempting to preserve the asset to current standards. In some cases, this meant improving roads that viably deliver return to Southland’s economy. This ensured that levels of service could be maintained to meet the needs of road users, without compromising on safety.  Some service levels were elevated and others deferred or reduced.

It was also the Council’s dream to utilise their internal GIS platform to communicate the ENP layers and models. For example the asset and export receipt information strategies were jointly derived to define a road hierarchy for optimal future economic investment. Now mapped, this investment information can be easily communicated by Council staff to Councillors, ratepayers and key stakeholders allowing the Council to clearly explain the decisions and rationale behind decision make on the roading network.

“ENP has significant potential to generate on-going benefits by reducing overall operating expenditure for CAPEX renewals and OPEX maintenance. Now Council can predict the need to defer or increase debt facility to deal with pavement life-cycle forecasts and rehabilitation cycle. Importantly it has helped us reduce the proportion of rates required to be invested in roading programmes and interventions.”

Owen O’Riordan

Commissioner, Southland District Council


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