Port of Melbourne infrastructure recommendations welcomed


VTA says Lonsdale Consortium submission highlights existing planning flaws and underscores need for long-term port access strategy

Port of Melbourne infrastructure recommendations welcomed
Port of Melbourne states that the perception of trucks contributing to major congestion on inner west roads is flawed.

 

The Victorian economy and jobs could come under pressure if the state government did not heed Port of Melbourne’s recommendation on infrastructure planning to support future freight growth, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) warns.

If road and rail access issues were not addressed in a timely manner, Victoria could lose business to other states and territories, VTA CEO Peter Anderson says.

The state transport body agrees with infrastructure planning suggestions made by the new owners of the Port of Melbourne, the Lonsdale Consortium, in a report to Infrastructure Victoria last week.

The report calls for "practical" land transport solutions that offer supply chain capacity, efficiency and productivity improvements, including:

  • reconsideration of the East West Link project and a freeway between CityLink and the Western Ring Road for improved movement of trucks coming in and out of the Port
  • upgrading the Bolte and West Gate bridges to handle high productivity freight vehicles (HPFV)
  • development of the Webb Dock Rail Link for improved freight rail and inter-port terminal access.

The Port of Melbourne believes that banning trucks from using inner west roads following the completion of the Western Distributor "will not address the inner west truck issue as the trucks will take the most direct transport route possible between their origin and destination".

It recommends planning additional arterial road infrastructure between the CityLink and the Western Ring Road sooner than later.

The submission notes that the perception of trucks contributing to major congestion "on the near port road network does not convey a realistic picture".

It suggests that "truck curfew hours should be carefully considered / re-examined on this basis as it has significant impact on supporting the 24 hours operation model of the Port of Melbourne".

Anderson says the "best way" to ease congestion during the day would be to set up incentives for operators to access the port at night.

"Instead of banning trucks from port access roads and increasing tolls disproportionally, why not reduce tolls for trucks at night and actually encourage them to use the road," Anderson says.

"This is the sort of creative thinking that has been lacking to date, and we welcome discussion the submission will inevitably create that will lead to greater productivity and efficiency at the Port of Melbourne."

Port of Melbourne CEO Brendan Bourke says landside transport network within the inner west is in need of "continued" investment to support a "sustainable" growth of metropolitan Melbourne.

"There should be a coordinated effort between PoM, industry and government to optimise the efficiency of the existing supply chain network (ensuring local community interface issues are considered), including initiatives such as increasing off-peak port access, prioritising high productivity freight vehicle investment and delivering practical freight rail solutions," Bourke states.

Anderson underlines that the long-term benefits of these infrastructure upgrades outweigh the cost of development now.

"And while we may not be able to afford it now, we at least need a sensible, long-term blueprint that prioritises future construction so that we aren’t wasting money on piecemeal solutions that are based on election cycles instead of the genuine needs of the economy," he says.

Read the full submission here.

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