Multinational starts principal contractor role

Posted October 26, 2015

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AECOM associate director transport James Ramsay.

North Queensland construction manager James Ramsay is in the driver’s seat as AECOM services take a new turn, starting with a council road project in the central west.

The rehabilitation and improvement work under way on McMaster Rd, the access to Winton Shire’s airport, marks AECOM Australia’s first project as principal contractor.

But it is familiar territory in more ways than one for Mr Ramsay, whose two decades of practical experience has included a strong focus on north-west and central western Queensland

“One of the reasons I’m sure they (AECOM) got me on board was to help move into that side of civil infrastructure work,” he said.

AECOM Australia, more widely involved in road design and planning, started work as principal contractor in July on the McMaster Rd project – a 1.9km bitumen stretch being rehabilitated under Natural Disaster Recovery and Relief Arrangements (NDRRA).

“AECOM is a global company and in various parts of our global company, construction work has always been part of the service,” Mr Ramsay said.

“We feel there is value to our client having an integrated service delivery model as an option to consider on top of the traditional separately staged models.”

Based in Townsville as AECOM associate director transport for the past four years, Mr Ramsay has been involved in a raft of NDRRA work across rural Queensland, including in the Winton and McKinlay shires, as well as project managing detailed design work for the Cloncurry heavy vehicle bypass.

He agrees that road building and restoration in rural and remote areas brings its own challenges.

“For me the main thing is the tyranny of distance from resources, not just subcontractors or contractors but materials and even access to water,” he said.

That meant a bit more thought and management was required to ensure a project was not held up unnecessarily, Mr Ramsay said.

“I think it helps to be a bit multi-skilled too and I find a lot of the guys can do more than one job and they’re willing to have a go,” he said.

Mr Ramsay grew up in Brisbane and completed a Bachelor of Engineering Technology at James Cook University before beginning his career in 1995 with RTCS (the forerunner to RoadTek).

“I completed post-graduate qualifications in project management and built my experience from there in the field,” he said. “I feel lucky as those I worked with, from both technical and non-technical backgrounds, were willing to teach, guide and mentor me.”

His time with the Department of Transport and Main Roads included managing the RoadTek Northwestern Work Centre in Cloncurry, with an area of responsibility stretching from Pormpuraaw in the north to Birdsville in the south.

His latest commitments at Winton have been seeing him travel regularly to the central western shire, mostly by car.

“There is some travel involved – but you’ll find people in the western areas don’t see a four or six-hour drive as a big thing,” Mr Ramsay said.

He said he would not able to do this work without the support of his wife Kelly, and their three children, Angus (15), Alyssa (13) and Aimee (11).

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