Clogged Melbourne clearways addressed for traffic and freight

New Victorian roads minister in swift $340m enforcement pledge

Clogged Melbourne clearways addressed for traffic and freight
Ben Carroll


The Victorian government has earnt Victorian Transport Association (VTA) praise for moving on clogged Melbourne clearways, an issue the VTA has lobbied for over quite a few years.

Hard on the heels of his gaining his new portfolio and with Melburnians are using cars more in response to the coronavirus pandemic, state roads minister Ben Carroll unveiled a $340 million package of measures including, technology improvements, more specialist staff and stronger enforcement of clearways.

Giving the initiative a big thumbs up, the VTA says it has been "advocating ‘clearways, not curfews’ as a practical and common-sense method of getting maximum utilisation out of the state’s road network and ensuring the free and unimpeded movement of passenger vehicles and freight".

VTA CEO Peter Anderson notes plans to enforce clearways, with harsher penalties and designate arterial roads within 20km of Melbourne as tow-away zones, is important validation of the association’s position.

"Clearways are absolutely essential for a seamless and integrated road transport network that enables people and freight to move efficiently around our city and state," Anderson says. "Enforcing clearways through higher penalties and fines sends an important message to drivers that if they abuse or disregard clearways they can expect to pay a hefty price."

Read about the ministerial reshuffle that brought Carroll to roads, here

Anderson adds that Victorian motorists had responded positively to the abolishment of curfews by local government areas throughout the state during the coronavirus pandemic to help keep supply chains moving.

And allowing heavy vehicles to use the road network at hours when roads are less congested helps to reduce congestion during the day when the roads are typically more crowded, as well as improving safety for all motorists.

"Clearways, not curfews has been the mantra of the VTA for some time now because we know traffic flows better when lanes are clear and that the freight industry has the ability to better service their customers and the community when the roads aren’t as busy as they are during the day," Anderson says sid.

"To keep supply chains free-flowing during coronavirus, many jurisdictions – including Victoria – refrained from enforcing curfews on trucks so that supermarket shelves could be quickly re-stocked.

"This has worked extraordinarily well, and we need to learn from this experience and get away from a mindset that curfews are a solution."

The government says that, under the plan, three key traffic hotspots in the western, eastern and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne will be "blanketed with the technology and resources" to help keep traffic moving, reduce delays and provide drivers with better traffic information.

Almost 700 CCTV cameras will be installed to identify bottlenecks as soon as they start and more than 200 wireless travel time sensors and 40 new visual message boards will put live traffic data in the hands of our traffic management centre and drivers.

Six extra incident response crews and dozens more specialist traffic engineers will be hired "to keep our roads moving around the clock".

The timing of hundreds of traffic lights – along with traffic patterns and crash data – will be analysed and re-sequenced to maximise traffic flow along some of the busiest routes in the targeted areas.

Road occupation charges to charge developers for blocking lanes on arterial roads during building works will recommence from July 20, after they were suspended in response to the coronavirus outbreak.


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