Forget Truck Action Plan, VTA wants residents gone

VTA rejects need for Truck Action Plan, saying government should instead buy residents’ houses in affected areas

By Ruza Zivkusic | June 8, 2011

A street in Melbourne’s west that has recorded the highest diesel fumes due to truck traffic does not need a truck curfew, Victorian Transport Association CEO Phil Lovel says.

Instead of spending $380 million on the Truck Action Plan project to divert trucks off residential streets, Lovel believes the Victorian Government is better off "buying out the local residents’ houses".

The Truck Action Plan was proposed by the former government, but Premier Ted Baillieu is yet to commit to it.

"Our issue with the proposal is that it’s a huge, costly proposition and there are better places to spend the money," Lovel says.

"We’ll be better off buying the local resident’s houses as Francis Street and that area has been a truck route for 150 years – it was called Docklands Highway."

While residents in Melbourne’s western suburbs are hoping the plan is implemented, Lovel has questioned whether the government has the funds to make it possible.

"We can see that there are benefits in it on the basis the port is going to grow and we will have many more trucking issues but there are just as many other areas in Melbourne that could have that money spent too," he says.

Maribyrnong Truck Action Group President Peter Knight says diesel fumes have increased following the completion of the Western Ring Road and Citylink in the 1990s. Up to 7,000 trucks travel past residents’ doors each day, he says.

Lovel has rejected any call to divert trucks to the Bolte Bridge to ease traffic congestion, labelling the idea "ridiculous".

He believes it will create more congestion and cause more accidents.

"And if you talk about the environment it’s not an environmental solution at all because it’s going to double the usage of fuel and it’s a huge cost to the industry and their customers just to appease a few residents," Lovel says.

"In a month or so there will be five lanes each way on the West Gate Bridge. It is a major piece of infrastructure and it’s reached its capacity.

"We are looking to an alternative to the bridge and it may or may not be a tunnel, it may be reinventing the Old Geelong Road."

Lovel says more must also be done to remove broken down trucks from Citylink freeways to keep traffic moving.

"Citylink needs to clear the breakdowns fast, one hour is too long. We also need to charge motorists when they run out of fuel because they cause havoc for the next three hours and everyone loses time."

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