Baillieu snubs Truck Action Plan

Residents vow to block trucks in protest against Victoria's decision not to fund the Truck Action Plan

Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | May 2, 2012

The long-awaited Truck Action Plan has overlooked in this year’s Victorian Budget but the government is pouring cash into two major infrastructure projects – the East West Rail Link and the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel.

It has set aside $15 million for the rail link, with another $50 for the 9km rail tunnel.

Footscray State Labor MP Marsha Thomson, who has campaigned for the Truck Action Plan to go ahead, says traffic conditions in Melbourne’s west will become worse.

"It’s not just bad for locals living there but it’s also not good for the industry sector either so it’s not benefiting anyone not to have the Truck Action Plan," she says.

Maribyrnong Truck Action Group President Peter Knight says residents are not happy and will hold a protest, blocking major truck routes in the west.

"We are disappointed but not surprised. Residents get the raw deal and trucks get to go wherever they want basically," Knight says.

"The fact that the government is not engaging in this issue at all means that we have to unfortunately return to the tactics to get the Labor party’s attention and that’s what we’ll be doing in due course."

Victorian motoring group RACV has welcomed the state’s commitment on several critical transport projects but says more needs to be done to tackle the increasing congestion on the roads.

RACV General Manager of Public Policy Brian Negus says the city too often comes to a halt because of its reliance on the Monash Westgate corridor which is the city’s only major cross-town route.

"Improved transport infrastructure is vital to improve Victoria’s mobility and reduce congestion," Negus says.

"Governments can no longer take a short term view of relying on a year to year budget for these important projects.

Road congestion costs Victorians $3 billion a year and is predicted to double by 2020, he adds.

Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder says the government is taking a responsible approach to rebuilding the state’s finances.

"This budget sets out a clear plan to meet our challenges and position Victoria to take full advantage of current and future opportunities," Mulder says.

"It is about investing in a record state infrastructure spend and driving economic activity, productivity and jobs."

Other road projects in the Budget include:

• $36 million for the Ballarat Western Link Road – 4.2km between Western Freeway and Ballarat Burrumbeet Road to support economic development in Western Ballarat;

• $7.1 million for overtaking lanes on the Strzelecki and Hyland highways and two new lanes on Melbourne-Lancefield Road to ease congestion and improve road safety;

• $16 million additional funding for the Koo Wee Rup Bypass, a new arterial road connection from Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road to the South Gippsland Highway – with the total funding for the project worth $66 million;

• $42 million for the duplication of an 18 km stretch of the Western Highway between Beaufort and Buangor, upgrading it to a four-lane divided highway; and

• $6 million to upgrade rest areas along the Hume Freeway with additional truck parking spaces and improved amenities.

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