Tempers flare over 'bull**it' blockade

VTA fires broadside at "hillbilly" protest group blockading Melbourne streets over truck traffic figures derided as "anecdotal bull**it"

Tempers flare over 'bull**it' blockade
Tempers flare over 'bull**it' blockade
By Ruza Zivkusic | October 26, 2010

Footscray’s Moore and Buckley Streets were blocked off this morning as frustrated local residents called on the State Government to introduce a night and weekend curfew for trucks.

Up to 100 people protested for 15 minutes at 8am as the police blocked the streets- a move which has been described as a last resort by Less Trucks for Moore, their president, Andres Pineros, says.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) Chief Executive Officer Philip Lovel says no blockade will lead to curfews – "ever".

Pineros claims Moore Street’s night-time traffic has increased by 46 per cent in the past year, which is around 2500 trucks per day.

Truck traffic on Buckley Street is also up by 30 per cent.

The group is calling on the State Government and VicRoads to implement a 50km speed limit for both streets and ban the use of air horns and engine breaks.

"We definitely didn’t want to go ahead with this but unfortunately the government didn’t give us any other option," Pineros says.

Lovel says Moore Street has been a major truck route for the past 150 years and believes the figures on truck activity in the two streets are "anecdotal bull**it".

"We’ve been pushed into travelling at night-time by the government, they’re putting a freight infrastructure charge at the Port of Melbourne to encourage us to change our behaviour to work at night and on weekends," Lovel says.

"We are upset that the police are assisting them with the blockades. Is every hillbilly going to stand on a road when they don’t agree with what’s been happening to stop traffic?

"They can stand on the road for the rest of their lives as far as I’m concerned, this is absolutely unacceptable."

Lovel claims traffic in Footscray and in other western suburbs is no worse than in other areas in Melbourne.

"Just ask some of the residents in Port Melbourne, Dandenong or Frankston –everyone is being affected by increasing traffic and trucks," he says.

"We have a city that is growing. The State Government is trying to address the issues of congestion, freight traffic and urban development but they can’t do everything at once without federal funding."

"The VTA calls on the police to break the blockade and let all of us go about our business- this blockade is unlawful and costly."

He warns residents against taking direct action such as throwing missiles.

A spokesman for Roads Minister Tim Pallas, Bill Kyriakopoulos, says everyone is allowed to protest.

"We just hope it’s peaceful and that no one gets hurt and that traffic gets back to normal as soon as possible," Kyriakopoulos says.

"We know that VicRoads have spoken to the residents and the police to try and make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible."

Maribyrnong Truck Action Group President Peter Knight claims VTA is "one of the most regressive organisations in the state".

"They have done nothing but abuse residents from the most arrogant ad bullying way since we were formed," Knight says.

"They’re one of the reasons why this protest is happening because they won’t talk or negotiate."

VicRoads Acting Regional Director for Metropolitan North West Patricia Law says VicRoads understands concerns of local residents about trucks using Moore Street.

"Banning trucks on Moore Street may mean that trucks would be diverted onto other residential streets in the area," Law says.

"VicRoads is meeting with residents, the council and the transport industry on a regular basis to find a balance between the needs of the different areas.

"Projects such as WestLink and the Truck Action Plan will create alternative routes for freight to access the Port of Melbourne and remove thousands of trucks from inner west suburban streets, away from residential areas," she adds.

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