Victoria's transport plan to focus on freight capacity

Victoria's new transport plan will focus on improving freight flow and managing capacity

By Samantha Freestone

Victoria’s new transport plan, to be released next week, will focus on improving freight flow and managing capacity.

In a public address in Port Melbourne this morning, Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas revealed plans to widen the West Gate Bridge to five lanes each way and introduce high productivity vehicles.

The bridge upgrade will cost $240 million and will be jointly funded by the Brumby and Rudd governments as part of the $1.39 billion upgrade to the M1 corridor.

Pallas says reconfiguring the bridge is the most cost effective and safe option to manage Melbourne’s road system.

He says the outer edges of the bridge will be strengthened to allow the existing shoulders to carry traffic, while lane width will be reduced from 3.5 metres to 3.1 metres.

The introduction of high productivity vehicles is seen by Pallas as an effective way of coping with the predicted surge in the freight task.

"Our freight task is likely to double in the next two years and government says that we need to maximise efficiency," Pallas says.

"Certainly the Government has consistently agreed [higher productivity vehicles] are a key part of the future of the freight industry."

The transport plan will also focus on creating better connections between intermodal freight hubs.

The bridge upgrade is due to be completed by the end of 2010, with works to begin early in 2009.

The decision to run five lanes each way stems from population growth in Melbourne’s west.

A team of national and international experts carried out structural analysis and bridge modelling to determine how best to strengthen the structure and increase its capacity.

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