RTA ignoring trucking industry on rest areas

By: Jason Whittaker

New South Wales is actively "ripping out rest areas" on key freight routes as well as ignoring calls for new

New South Wales is actively "ripping out rest areas" on key freight routes as well as ignoring calls for new rest stops, the trucking industry says.

The RTA is in the process of duplicating lanes on the Hume Highway, with ATA NSW General Manager Jill Lewis saying rest areas to the side of single lanes will be scrapped.

Lewis has written to the Road and Traffic Authority requesting General Manager of Compliance and Freight Strategy Philip Halton to assure the industry rest areas will be spared.

Lewis is yet to receive a reply.

Concerns are mounting the RTA will remove the rest areas and not replace them after ATA communications manager Bill McKinley told ATN it is already happening on the Pacific Highway

"In NSW they are ripping out rest areas along the Pacific Highway so they can widen it," McKinley says.

"So rather than widening the highway and putting in rest areas they are just removing the rest areas entirely."

This is despite the fact Halton, as a representative of the RTA, left the recent ATA Trucking Convention "with no illusions about the trucking industry’s views about the importance of rest areas", according to McKinley.

But the RTA is one part of the problem, with McKinley saying all states are neglecting calls for adequate rest areas to ensure the industry can comply with fatigue management regulations to be introduced on September 29.

"The lack of rest areas is a major problem with the implementation of fatigue laws. We have pointed this out to the state governments and they don’t seem to really care," he says.

While saying the ATA understands new rest areas cannot be built overnight, McKinley claims it is unlikely any will be built before the introduction of fatigue laws because the states are stonewalling on the issue.

A spokeswoman for the RTA told ATN new rest areas will not be built as part of the Hume Highway upgrade because they are part of a separate strategy.

However, The RTA is yet to confirm when this strategy will be implemented, why it is being developed separately from road upgrades and whether any new rest areas will be built before September 29.

Unless urgent action is taken, the ATA argues the industry and governments will face major compliance problems because drivers will struggle to find places to pull over in order to abide by rest measures.

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