Gwydir Shire welcomes heavy vehicles, calls for bypass


NSW council signs up to HML, PBS and Livestock Loading schemes.

Gwydir Shire welcomes heavy vehicles, calls for bypass
Livestock transporters will now have greater access to Gwydir Shire's road network.

 

A northern New South Wales council has voted in favour of opening up its road network to heavy vehicles in a move welcomed by the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA).

Gwydir Shire, which straddles the border with Queensland, has signed up to the Higher Mass Limits (HML), Livestock Loading and Performance Based Standards (PBS) schemes.

All schemes are aimed at improving heavy vehicle productivity through permitting operators to haul more freight per load or use innovative vehicle combinations in return for meeting a number of conditions.

The council brought in a consultant last year to determine if the shire’s road network could support heavier loads.

Gwydir has permitted almost blanket approval, with the exception of a handful of regional and shire roads.

In a message to its members, the LBCA says Gwydir Council’s decision is "a fantastic breakthrough".

"The association has had a lot of contact with Gwydir Shire Council in the last few weeks and it is obvious they are taking a positive and proactive stance towards encouraging jobs and growth in the Shire. The flow-on effects are obvious," the LBCA says.

It says trucking operators Cavanagh’s Transport, Stockmaster, Stocktrans and McCullock Bulk Haulage were vital in getting Gwydir in approving the schemes. 
 

SHIRE CALLS FOR BYPASS 

A few months after heavy vehicle regulator handed it the power to determine which heavy vehicles can operate on its roads, the Gwydir Shire is moving to construct a bypass to connect the north of shire with a major arterial route.

Designed to circumvent Warialda, a rural town on the Gwydir Highway, the $6 million bypass would open up the shire to improved efficiencies for transport operators and its grain and cattle farming constituents, Gwydir Shire mayor John Coulton says.

"Eighty per cent of our rates come from farming properties and we are doing everything in our power to improve productivity for the community," he says.

"In the process to open up our shire to AB triples and road trains, we are about to place an application to the government for some funding to build a bypass around the town of Warialda, so that freight can come from the northern part of the shire, which goes to the Queensland border, and then hook up with the Gwydir Highway."

Coulton says the application, due to be submitted by December 10, is a practical and common sense move; lowering the number of livestock vehicles travelling on the shire’s roads, saving transporter’s time, and reducing the cost on local farmers.

Currently heavy vehicles carrying cattle to the abattoir in Inverell cannot go through Warialda because of a 90-degree turn, forcing them to take alternate routes, he says.

"I think its 70-odd kilometres to go around at the moment and I know it was costing one trucking company $17,000 a week extra," he says.

"There’s a terrific productivity gain there and that gain will go back to the producer."

The move would also halt single and B-double livestock vehicles going through town, which at present can leave reminders of their passing behind on town streets.

An odour that, Coulton says, is hard to remove.

While the reduction in traffic will be good for roads in town, the council also believes the movement of traffic to other roads will only have a minimal impact.  

The shire is presently in the process of conducting a safety audit, which has a while to go, but early predictions restrict damage to when road trains hit the road edge.

"With the low volumes of traffic in our shire, that will only be when they are passing, and that isn’t that often," Coulton says.

"So, I don’t anticipate any more damage than we have now."

The Gwydir mayor says the other issue they are dealing with is the impact of the bypass’ location on a small number of residents, who have sought "some assurance that there would be sound barriers."

"What we have done is moved the bypass further away, so its 200m from the closest house and there will be a mound of dirt as a sound barrier," he says.

"They seem to be happy with that now."

Coulton, and the LBCA that have committed $3,000 towards the application, foresee economic gains for the local community.

"If we are successful with our bypass, where it enters the highway we are going to put in a self-fuelling station and a truck-wash bay," Coulton says.

"There will be a pit where they can empty their tanks and they can also wash their decks out.

"Then I think it will attract an eating place."

The shire hopes to hear the application result in January or February next year.

 

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