The inadequacies of existing transportation infrastructure relative to projected population growth will create ample opportunities for members of the construction and engineering sectors.

A nationwide audit of Australia ‘s infrastructure stock by the government’s independent infrastructure adviser sees transportation demand in major cities surging in tandem with ongoing population growth, placing immense strain on urban transit systems.

Infrastructure Australia expects the populations of Sydney and Melbourne to leap from less than 4.5 million at present to roughly 6 million by 2031, and 8.5 million by 2061.

The populations of Perth and Brisbane will rise from 2 million at present to 3 million in 2013, and roughly 5 million by 2061.

According to Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell this population growth is enormous even when placed in an international context, and will put immense strain upon transportation infrastructure in urban centres.

Smaller urban centres that are as yet unprepared for rapid population growth will suffer from the worst transportation dilemmas. Perth is expected to emerge as the most congestion-plagued city in Australia by 2031, ousting Sydney from top position, while Brisbane will be the third-worst.

The IA audit foresees worsening traffic congestion taking a huge toll on economic productivity, with its nationwide cost expected to quadruple to $53 billion by 2031.

Australian infrastructure continues to fares poorly when compared to other OECD nations, as demonstrated by its poor showing in a recent survey conducted by the World Economic Forum.

According to the survey Australia ranked 43rd in the world for road quality, 38th in terms of the quality of port facilities, and 35th for overall infrastructure quality.

Birrell believes funding and planning problems continue to severely hamper the development of transportation infrastructure in Australia, particularly compared to other sectors such as energy, telecommunications and water that have already been the subject of significant reforms.

While the inadequacies of Australia’s existing transportation infrastructure relative to future requirements bodes poorly for economic productivity, it will undoubtedly be a boon for the engineering and construction sectors over upcoming decades, as the federal and state governments endeavour to remedy shortcomings with a rush to build.

Speaking to AFR Birrell pointed to the need to build “significantly more infrastructure” in cater to demands of the four world-scale cities that Australia will host by mid-century.

Sufficient political will exists to address any potential infrastructure shortcomings, as demonstrated by the fact that Prime Minister Tony Abbot launched the audit as part of efforts to foster greater discussion on methods for remedying urban congestion.

Following the launch of the audit Infrastructure Australia will release a follow-up report containing a list of priority projects as well as reform recommendations prior to the year’s end.