Giamma Gentile of Pacific Complete.
Giamma Gentile of Pacific Complete. Caitlan Charles

Meet the faces behind the highway upgrade: Pt IV

GIAMMA Gentile has worked on complex road, bridge, rail infrastructure and building projects in Australia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East for the past 15 years.

Born in Switzerland in 1978, Mr Gentile speaks Italian, English and some Japanese and has worked across the world on many significant infrastructure projects but he is also very familiar with the North Coast. He was the design manager for Australia's longest road bridge, the 3.2 kilometre Macleay River bridge built as part of the Kempsey bypass project. He also worked on the Banora Point upgrade.

Mr Gentile has a multi-faceted role on the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade which he joined in mid-2015. It involves managing the integration of design, procurement and major work on bridges required for the 155 kilometre upgrade.

Mr Gentile said there are a number of really exciting things about working on the project, including the large number of bridges required.

"Many upgrades have a few bridges but they are vitally important for this project with bridges being built at more than 100 locations over flood plains, creeks and rivers including the major bridges crossing of the Clarence and Richmond rivers," he said.

"Building more than 100 bridges is really complex due to the constraints and challenges associated with the overall upgrade, particularly working on the flood plains. The greatest challenge the team has faced was finding the best solution to meet technical requirements and the 2020 deadline to open to traffic while minimising impact to road users.

"Previous Pacific Highway upgrades have made huge inroads into dealing with these sorts of issues and this last section continues to build on that pipeline of innovation. 

"The partnership between Roads and Maritime Services and Pacific Complete is key to the success of the project as it uses the combined knowledge of the public and private sectors to deliver great outcomes for the project and the region.

"Working with the design, build and technical teams very early in the upgrade to develop the right accelerated solution has been invaluable. Using precast elements to standardise bridge components means they can be built in shorter time frames and therefore have less impact on the local area as well as increase the quality of the finished bridges."

"The procurement strategy also means we are using a wider pool of contractors and suppliers which is key to the successful timely delivery of the project.

"Challenge and innovation is also an important part of this project, enabling the team to look at a problem and come up with the most effective solution for the project. A good example of this is the increase in the number and length of waterway openings using bridges instead of culverts which will improve the flow of flood water away from urban centres and agricultural land.

"I hope throughout the project I will be able to share a sense everything can be achieved if you have passion for what you do. I think passion is one of the engines of what we do in life, whether it's work related, family related or for personal satisfaction. 

"At the start of April I was able to share this passion with students participating in the University of Newcastle's Science and Engineering challenge at Woolgoolga High School. I was on the judging panel for the bridge building challenge. It was a great opportunity for the project and the wider Pacific Highway upgrade to inspire kids to consider a future career in science and engineering. The passion and determination they showed through the competition was inspiring.

"I believe in our everyday job we need to meet or exceed expectations in any task we carry out. I also think it is very important to remind ourselves how important the delivery of this project is for a variety of stakeholders.

"A completed Pacific Highway will provide four lanes of divided road between Hexham and the Queensland border, providing a safer journey for thousands of motorists each day and that's really exciting to me."


Winged plank that will be used extensively on the Pacific Highway project
Winged plank that will be used extensively on the Pacific Highway project

Mr Gentile was also key member of the collaborative RMS and Pacific Complete team which designed the winged plank that will be used extensively on the project. The other members of the team who Mr Gentile worked with on this fantastic innovation were Michael Bulmer for Pacific Highway Office Technical Review and engineering colleagues Rajanthi Ravindra, Da Huang, Stephen Burkitt, Robert Taylor and Nell Hardy.

About 2300 of the innovative winged planks will be used to build more than 100 bridges for the upgrade. The planks improve safety and save money. Normal bridge planks have 30 centimetre gaps between them but the Woolgoolga to Ballina project team is using a plank with a precast wing that spans the gap, eliminating the safety hazard and reducing the number of planks needed to build each bridge, saving resources and money by using less planks.

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