Over-height truck causes $1 million in damage

Small one-man operations cop most of the blame for over-height trucks damaging tunnels

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | April 18, 2013

A truck driver is expected to face charges for breaching height restrictions in Melbourne’s Burnley tunnel last night.

The driver of an over-height truck carrying an excavator is accused of ignoring height restriction warnings and proceeding into the tunnel just after 3pm, causing damage to several lights and fans.

VicRoads says the 5.1 metre-high truck made it three-quarters of the way through the tunnel before stopping, causing $1million in damage.

It took road authorities more than four hours to remove the truck. The excavator was also damaged.

It is the second incident in a month involving an over-height truck, with the last occurring on March 18. Last night’s incident was almost identical to the previous one, CityLink Media and Communications Manager Kate Murphy says.

"It’s frustrating. There was a similar incident a month ago and any incident like this is a concern for us," Murphy says.

The tollway authority has been in close talks with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and the industry to eliminate such incidents but Murphy says more can be done to educate smaller companies.

"What we’re finding is that generally the larger operators seem to be doing the right thing. It tends to be the one-man operators who may not be doing those checks and balances," she says.

"We are calling on the operators to make sure they’re aware of how high their truck is and if they do pass through one of our detections and warning signs, to not go any further.

"Take the nearest exit or stop before you go through the tunnel because not only does it cause major damage to the tunnels but as we have seen last night it causes major issues for all the other traffic on the road as well."

VicRoads spokeswoman Mel Beasley says although it is unusual for an incident like this to occur, it was severe because of its location.

"Victoria Police have advised that they are preparing to charge the driver on summons and the penalties will be imposed by the courts," Beasley says.

"With an incident of this nature, it is the responsibility of VicRoads Traffic Management Centre to adjust traffic signals to make alternative routes work better.

"In yesterday’s case, VicRoads also adjusted the travel time signs and variable message signs on the freeway and on arterials leading up to it to warn drivers of the incident ahead to help keep the road network running as smoothly as possible."

CityLink will not reimburse drivers the tolls, Murphy says. ATN contacted the VTA for comment, but the association did not respond before deadline.

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