VTA seeks efficiencies from road investment

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

Productivity must rise peak body says, while regional operator has doubts

VTA seeks efficiencies from road investment
Chambers says cooperation is needed to cement gains


The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has welcomed cash injections into Melbourne’s East West Link project but wants to see freight productivity improved immediately.

The Victorian Government has announced it will build both stages of the project after the Federal Government pledged to spend $1.5 billion on the Link’s second stage, connecting CityLink to the Western Ring Road.

VTA CEO Neil Chambers, who met with the State Government on Tuesday to discuss the plans, says an immediate approach to freight congestion is needed to help improve traffic flow.

"Yes, we are investing in freight industry and we appreciate that tremendously but we still have to ensure we have productivity improvements over the next decade while these major life-changing and city-changing projects go ahead," Chambers says.

"We still have to continue to find ways to both improve freight productivity but also deal with those issues in the short to medium term which are the amenity and the interactions of the inner city routes because that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future unless we all work together to find ways to deal with that."

The State Government has announced it will build both stages of the project simultaneously in an 18km road project worth $18 billion that will be completed by 2023.

The link is set to improve freight connections for Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Travel times from regional Victoria to Melbourne will be improved once the project is completed, according to the State Government.

But Symes Transport in Bendigo is not so convinced.

The company sends up to 10 trucks to Melbourne each day.

"I believe it when I see it," Symes Transport spokesman Richard Steen says.

"It’s not too bad travelling on the West Gate Freeway but it’s a drain if there’s an accident – it’s a nightmare."

Planning and procurement is currently underway for the 6km eastern section of the East West Link that features a tunnel and connects the Eastern Freeway to CityLink.

Construction is due to commence late this year and be completed by 2019.

Detailed planning of the western section is due to commence and construction will start by the end of 2015.

The issue of freight efficiency and cost was also on the VTA’s mind regarding $850 million widening of the Tullamarine Freeway that would see operator Transurban double truck tolls.

Meanwhile, a growing number of trucks are said to be seeking to avoid delays on the West Gate Bridge are turning to residential streets in the city’s inner west.

And Maribyrnong Truck Action Group Secretary Martin Wurt says a growing number trucks is cutting through residential streets in a bid to avoid toll payments.

"Unless you’ve got a legislation that is going to force the truck on to it, we will continue to have trucks running through our neighbourhood taking shortcuts avoiding congestion and toll," Wurt says.

"Every time a piece of major road infrastructure is built, it gets sold to us as being the solution but our experience so far is that every major road project is actually added to our problems of trucks on residential streets.

"If the government met with us and had shown us exactly how they were going to achieve this, we could possibly be coming out calling this a great move but at the moment we can’t do that."

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