Transport Industry News

ATA calls for $5 billion road investment

The ATA wants to see a greater investment into Australia's road network in the upcoming federal government budget.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for an extra $5 billion investment from the federal government in an effort to fix freight roads, dangerous level crossings and more rest areas for truck drivers.

ATA chair David Smith says the transport association will be making the call in its pre-budget submission for 2024-25, citing the poor quality of roads across the transport network.

“Trucking is vital to the fabric of the Australian community, but the government needs to make our freight roads better,” he says.

“To keep truck drivers safe, the government needs to fix dangerous level crossings. And we need a concerted effort to fix rest areas, because the task is huge, and drivers aren’t seeing enough in the way of results.

“Australia must also invest in developing a defined all-weather network, with a supporting secondary network pre-approved for use, in the wake of road network closures due to fires, floods and crashes.

“To achieve this, the federal government should assume responsibility for major freight roads through the national highways program. This should include funding and operational responsibilities, including granting access approvals for heavy vehicles.”

The call for level crossing safety improvements arrive after an incident involving the collision of a freight train and a truck on the border of NSW and SA in late December.

Smith says the investment is not only needed as soon as possible, but vitally important to the safety of the roads. He also believes regulations on truck dimensions need to be looked at again.

“The 2024-25 budget should include a new, $5 billion truck roads, level crossings and rest areas program over the next ten years,” he says.

“All the projects under the program should be linked to results, such as improving safety and enabling the industry to increase its use of high productivity trucks.

“Increasing the use of high productivity trucks would reduce total vehicle movements, reduce congestion growth and lower the cost of freight. High productivity trucks are more likely to be safer, quieter and less emissions intensive.

“The government’s immediate priority should be to fund the road upgrades needed to allow 35 metre modular A-doubles on the Hume Highway in New South Wales.

“These trucks with two trailers can carry 44 pallets of freight, compared to 36 pallets in the 26 metre long B-doubles that are commonly used now.”

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