No truck plan, but Budget outlines help for last mile access


<font color=red>VIC BUDGET</font>: Government criticised for approach to trucks on residential streets, but announces funding for last mile access issues

No truck plan, but Budget outlines help for last mile access
No truck plan, but help for last mile access
By Ruza Zivkusic | May 4, 2011

Victoria’s Coalition Government has delivered its first budget but there are no plans in sight to tackle Melbourne’s crippling congestion.

The Government has injected $601 million into road infrastructure, including the construction of two major bypasses.

It has fulfilled its promise of funding the Koo Wee Rup bypass in South Gippsland, worth $50 million, which will decrease traffic volumes on the route that carries up to 1000 heavy vehicles through the town daily.

But it has failed to announce plans to remove trucks from residential streets in Melbourne’s inner west, which was a key feature of the previous government's Victorian Transport Plan.

The Dingley bypass worth $20 million will go ahead, and so will the duplication of the Princes highway from Colac to Winchelsea.

Overtaking lanes worth $15 million will also be built on the Princes Highway west of Colac.

Treasurer Kim Wells has allocated $160 million over four years to upgrade country roads and bridges, with 40 rural councils eligible for $1 million from the fund each year to help ease the funding burden.

RACV traffic and roads manager Peter Daly has welcomed the help that councils will receive, saying the last mile is important for truck drivers.

"A lot of the issues we hear from freight companies and truck drivers who are our members relate to that last mile and in difficulty getting access – like the milk tanker who can’t access the bridge because the load on the bridge is not high enough as councils put a load limit instead of maintaining it," he says.

While saying Premier Ted Baillieu has delivered on his promises, the RACV is critical of its failure to produce a strategic plan for freight as outlined in Victorian Transport Plan.

"RACV is encouraged by the State Government’s willingness to tackle serious problems affecting congestion and road safety with this budget, however more needs to be done to address the congestion that is causing enormous frustration to Victorian road users and crippling the state," Daly says.

Road congestion costs Victorians $3 billion each year and is predicted to double by 2020.

To reduce congestion, the RACV wants the east-west link from Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road with tunnels to Citylink and under the Maribyrnong River.

It has also proposed the north-east link from the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink to improve traffic flow.

The RACV has recommended public transport improvements, a bypass at Shepparton and grade separations of key intersections.

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Philip Lovel says the Budget is catching up on infrastructure work following the damage wrought by this year’s floods.

"A lot of it is disappearing into maintenance and repairs, building it to where it was before," he says.

"We met with [Transport Minister Terry] Mulder last week and we put to him half a dozen propositions where they don’t have to spend a lot of money. They can help us change the way we do business by looking at the way the customers operate their opening hours.

"We also need to lift curfews around a lot of the retail outlets in suburban Melbourne. Sixty percent of retail outlets can’t be delivered [to] during the night so there’s a lot the government can do without costing themselves a lot of money."

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has praised the Budget, saying the investment in transport and regional infrastructure will boost capacity and will benefit businesses, particularly those in regional Victoria.

Opposition spokeswoman on roads Jacinta Allan believes the Budget has failed to outline a clear strategy to improve the state’s road network and reduce congestion.

"The Budget is nothing more than a cut to road funding upgrades across metropolitan Melbourne, increasing pressure on our existing road network," she claims.

"This budget has minimal funding to boost road infrastructure in our growing outer suburbs and will leave thousands of families stuck in a gridlock."

Allan is also critical of the Government’s failure to outline a plan to remove trucks from residential streets in Melbourne’s inner west.

"Transport Minister Terry Mulder is not up to the job. He has failed to outline a major plan to boost Victoria’s road network and improve the efficiency of the freight system across our state," she says.


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