NSW RTA may give an inch on truck width

NSW RTA says it’s “investigating potential opportunities to make laws standard across the country” following report of a disagreement with Victoria over width of heavy vehicles under proposed national road regulator

February 24, 2010

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) says it’s "investigating potential opportunities to make laws standard across the country" following a recent report of a disagreement with Victoria over the width of heavy vehicles under the proposed national road regulator.

Addressing a senate committee last week secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport Mike Mrdak says states and territories are refusing to budge on their ability to regulate access to their roads.

Noting that "individual jurisdictions retain and very much guard their ability to manage their own regulatory requirements for access to their road network, he cited a dispute between the two states over the maximum width of vehicles carrying hay.

Victoria currently has a width of three metres while NSW’s is 2.5 metres.

"NSW has a very some very firm views on the width, particularly on secondary roads in western NSW," Mrdak says.

"My understanding is that they retain the view that they will not adopt the Victorian approach."

But a spokesperson says the RTA is proactively participating in discussions on a national heavy vehicle regulator including investigating potential opportunities to make laws standard across the country.

"In addition, the RTA and VicRoads have regular discussions on cross border regulations.

"Road safety is the principal factor that must be addressed when looking at harmonisation and the RTA will consider the outcomes of the Victorian hay trial which is due to finish in August 2010," the spokesperson says.

Mrdak says it is vital all parties involved in national regulator discussions agree on all levels of the new laws.

In October last year all state, territory and federal governments agreed to establish a national regulators for the road, rail and maritime industries. All trucks over 4.5 tonnes would be subject to one set of national laws instead of eight separate sets of laws.

"We are going to have to convince jurisdictions to effectively say that, where the national regulator sets a permitted weight or width, the jurisdiction must allow that access onto the road network," he says.

But he warns it will not be easy to do this.

"This will be one of the more difficult negotiations that the Commonwealth and the states have ever entered into, because it goes to the heart of the control of pavement by state road authorities- and their asset management practices," Mrdak says

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