Residential streets 'overloaded with trucks': Greens

Greens want curfews slapped on trucks using residential streets and claim "drastic action" is needed to reduce their numbers

Brad Gardner | May 27, 2011

The Victorian Greens are continuing their campaign to kill off trucks using residential streets in Melbourne, calling for night curfews and a strategy to get freight onto rail.

The Greens’ Western Metropolitan MLC, Colleen Hartland, claims "residential streets are being overloaded with trucks" to the point where the Victorian Government must implement a suite of measures to address the problem.

Hartland wants the curfews and speed limits imposed as a short-term response, followed by the Truck Action Plan as a medium-term solution.

"But all the roads we build will get clogged with traffic as truck numbers increase. Freight on rail is the long-term solution It removes trucks from residential streets, as freight is moved to intermodal hubs beyond residential areas," Hartland says.

Addressing Parliament this week, she told fellow politicians rising truck numbers were having a debilitating effect on communities.

"Truck noise from vibrating and air brakes prevent people from sleeping at night. Children breathe in damaging diesel fumes. Schoolchildren must make their way to school along roads clogged with trucks," Hartland says.

She claims trucks are driving over gutters at intersections and running down pedestrian signs because they are too wide for the roads.

Hartland has previously called for Premier Ted Baillieu to fund the Truck Action Plan, which was announced under the former Labor government to remove heavy vehicles from residential streets.

Under the plan, ramps off the West Gate Freeway and Hyde Street will be built to reduce the number of trucks using Francis Street and Somerville Road.

The plan is currently under review. Mulder last month said curfews are in place for 101 hours per week in the western suburbs and that VicRoads officers are enforcing the measure. He says the Victorian Government is working with rail freight operators to get more freight on rail.

The Greens have pushed for measures to have more freight transported on rail, including jacking up B-double registration fees to $23,000 and holding the industry responsible for external costs such as air pollution, greenhouse gases and accidents.

The trucking industry has long scoffed at calls for trucks to be replaced because rail cannot compete with road freight across short distances, on express deliveries or getting goods into city centres.

Following the Federal Government’s decision to retain the fuel tax credits in the budget, Australian Trucking Association CEO Stuart St Clair took a shot at the Greens’ push to abolish the subsidy.

"The Greens want to abolish the trucking industry’s fuel tax credits because of their wrong-headed belief that more freight would be transported by rail," he says.

"But there isn’t a railway siding at the back of your local supermarket. The Greens’ policy would simply push up prices for everyone who buys goods delivered by truck – and that’s every single person in Australia."

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