VicRoads boss flags changes to truck curfews
Transport department says truck traffic levels in Melbourne’s inner west can’t continue.
Victoria’s transport agency has flagged changes to truck curfews in Melbourne’s inner west to address residential concerns about the number of heavy vehicles using local streets.
VicRoads CEO John Merritt used his appearance at yesterday’s Victorian Transport Association (VTA) industry luncheon to announce his intentions, along with urging the industry to show greater understanding toward residents affected by truck traffic.
Locals in the inner west have long campaigned for trucks to be stopped from using residential roads, such as Moore and Francis streets, to access the Port of Melbourne.
"We’ve got quite a few years to wait until the East West Link is completed but in the meantime let’s be absolutely clear, we cannot expect those residents in the inner west to put up with what they are putting up with now," Merritt says.
"We are going to have to make changes, particularly around night time curfew to release some of that stress."
Merritt says VicRoads, the Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Health have attended several community sessions to hear residents’ concerns about truck traffic.
He says there needs to be "a bit of give and take" to address the issue and that includes all parties engaging with one another.
"What I will say to the industry and my own organisation is we need to understand engaging with people and taking them seriously is a given, you can’t just say we can’t fix it therefore we won’t talk," Merritt says.
"I’m not saying it’s easy, I don’t particularly enjoy it but it is the nature of the world in which we live in. The challenge we face is urban density we need to learn how to live together."
VTA CEO Neil Chambers says VicRoads has to also consider the needs of the transport and freight industry.
"VicRoads also has stakeholders called the industry and the appropriate access is not unrealistic access so we need to work together to improve how that works irrespective of which party is successful in the November [State] election," he says.
Meanwhile, Merritt says he intends on improving VicRoads’ operation of the network and improving relationships with industry.
"The most obvious ones are on-road construction work," Merritt says.
"To put it bluntly, it’s not good enough. I have written to all the major contractors making sure that our relationship with the industry is much more respectful, mature and sophisticated."
Merritt says making sure Victoria’s 23,000km road network is used as efficiently as possible is on his priority list.
"One of my first challenges in leading the organisation is to wind that up significantly," he says.
"We don’t sweat enough over how the asset gets sweated. We run 600 cameras in metro network and we have access to 200 on private roads. One of the big challenges facing the organisation is to run these roads hard."
Merritt joined VicRoads in April after replacing Gary Liddle, who was chosen to lead a new Victorian planning and transport department.