Relegated to left lane: industry voices concerns

By: Cobey Bartels


Range of opinions ahead of the Commonwealth Games right lane ban on the M1

Relegated to left lane: industry voices concerns
Trucks relegated to left lane in a bid to reduce Commonwealth Games congestion.

 

From August onwards trucks over 4.5 tonnes will be restricted to the two left lanes from the M1/M3 merge at Eight Mile Plains to Nerang-Broadbeach Road, in preparation for the Commonwealth Games next year.

Despite the Commonwealth Games not commencing until April 4, 2018, the move is one Queensland main roads minister Mark Bailey believes will improve both journey time and safety for all motorists using the stretch of motorway.

"We have been working with peak bodies including the RACQ and Queensland Trucking Association and we are confident we can improve the safety and journey time reliability for motorists travelling on the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast during the Games," Bailey says of the move that has caused industry concern.

Parts of the industry aren’t convinced though, saying the move negatively affects productivity without addressing the root issue of improper lane use by all road users.

"Simply, they’re not addressing the right issues," National Road Freighter’s Association (NRFA) vice president Ken Wilkie says.

"Just yesterday, coming down from the Gateway, Arterial I was empty and there were two light commercial vehicles in the left lanes struggling a bit doing around 90km/h – so it was safer to get around them.

"I crossed back into the middle lane once I’d overtaken them and it was safer than getting stuck behind them – I indicated appropriately, there was a lot of room, and no flow of traffic was disrupted."

Wilkie says the big issue is improper use of the right lane for overtaking, with many drivers occupying it while travelling below the limit.

"Trucks in the right hand lane are a symptom, not a cause," he says.

"You’re supposed to keep on the left hand side of the road anyway, so if you can’t maintain the speed limit you shouldn’t be in the right lane regardless of what kind of vehicle you’re driving.

The point of contention for truckies is that they’re using the roads to earn a living, not just to get from A to B, something Wilkie believes will be affected by this ruling.

"My big bug bear is this is an experiment, but we’re making a living here.

"I’m absolutely confident the idea won’t work, and truck drivers will have been disadvantaged.

"The $121 fine and three demerit points aren’t very fair, especially the points," Wilkie insists.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has urged the Government to consider further consultation to reconsider the lane restrictions, insisting there are safer alternatives.

"The decision by the Queensland State Government to restrict heavy vehicles to the left lane of the Queensland M1 has the potential to cause extensive delays and is a cost burden for operators," NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says.

"Industry has not been adequately consulted about this road closure.

"The Queensland Government is using a blunt instrument to try and restrict movement of heavy vehicles and put additional costs into an industry that is critical to the Queensland economy.

"This also has the potential to put traffic into other roads not designed for heavy vehicle movements.

"We would welcome further consultation to re-consider this measure as NatRoad believes there are other alternatives available to support traffic movement and road user safety."

Other moves related to the Commonwealth Games include:

  • Allowing vehicles carrying athletes and officials under police escort to travel along the hard shoulder of a section of the M1 from Smith St to Hope Island at low speed if there is congestion that may prevent them from arriving at an event on time
  • Reducing the speed in the 100km/h zone by 10km/h to 90km/h from the M1/M3 merge at Eight Mile Plains to Logan Motorway interchange
  • Reducing the speed in the 110km/h speed zone by 10km/h to 100km/h from the Logan Motorway Interchange to Smith Street (Exit 66)
  • Temporary ramp management at the south bound Gold Coast Highway and Smith Street on-ramps.
  • Additional Traffic Response Units and towing vehicles to ensure incidents are cleared as quickly as possible.

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