Donnellan urged to focus on big Westgate Tunnel picture


Melbourne port container haulage chaos risked without holistic plan says CTAA

Donnellan urged to focus on big Westgate Tunnel picture
Roads minister Luke Donnellan risks a raft of unforeseen consequences

 

The Victorian government’s insistence that West Gate Tunnel Project tolling changes will be a boon for Millers Road residents has been met with Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) concern.

Roads minister Luke Donnellan has flagged a reduction of tolling points from two to one, asserting it would mean 3,000 fewer trucks will use Millers Road, few kilometres to the west of the West Gate Bridge, by 2031.

But CTAA director Neil Chambers believes that Millers Road truck access is crucial to the West Gate Tunnel Project’s success and has aired doubts about the thoroughness of VicRoads modelling.

"It is vital for Millers Road to be upgraded to allow safe and productive Higher Productivity Freight Vehicle [HPFV] operations to the M1 for access to and from the Port of Melbourne," Chambers says.

"It is our understanding that government modelling of possible transport use behaviour had raised concerns that some truck operators traveling east on Princes Freeway would seek to avoid the initial proposed tolling point east of Grieve Parade, instead using Old Geelong Road and Millers Road to then re-join the M1 at the Millers Road interchange

"By only having one truck tolling point east of Millers Road, removing the Grieve Parade tolling point, that possible toll avoidance behaviour will be removed."

"On reading the media statement from the Minister, our immediate concern was that truck access along Millers Road was to be curtailed, possibly forcing transport operators to back-track from yards and facilities in the inner west areas such as Brooklyn, Tottenham and Yarraville to gain access to the M1 at the Grieve Parade interchange."

"Such an outcome would have been disastrous for container transport logistics operators located in the inner west, and indeed the Grieve Parade interchange would not be able to cope.

"Thankfully, we have been assured by the Western Distributor Authority that this is not the case."

In evidence to the West Gate Tunnel Project Inquiry and Advisory Committee hearings yesterday, CTAA restated that a ‘whole of supply chain’ approach be taken by the Victorian Government to improve access to and from container transport facilities in the inner and outer west into the Port of Melbourne.

This is seen as extremely important given the government’s intention to impose 24/7 truck curfews on inner west roads, "thereby forcing trucks to access the M1 to travel to/from the Port of Melbourne and incur tolling and additional travel time costs".

"The M1 upgrades and new West Gate Tunnel are just part of the supply chain jigsaw," Chambers says.

"All of the pieces of the jigsaw must support productive and safe access for heavy vehicles at higher weights to match the improved weight access standards on the proposed new infrastructure.

"In relation to Millers Road particularly, that means pavement strengthening to accommodate Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles up to 120 tonnes, swept-path improvements at intersections, and ramp metering bypass lanes for trucks entering the M1.

"If these improvements in truck access on all identified inner and outer western suburb roads aren’t undertaken in parallel with the West Gate Tunnel Project construction, the competitiveness of Victorian businesses relying on productive and cost efficient access to the Port of Melbourne will be impacted severely."

Also on CTAA minds is the treatment of MacKenzie Road, which must be elevated for the tunnel, and the adequacy of upgrades to Sims Street.

The fear is that much of the modelling relates stevedore DP World’s expansion through Coode Road, which was specific to its needs rather than a port-wide treatment and wonder if they too should be part of the tunnel project.

It is noted that there have been piecemeal government responses to resident-group lobbying in specific areas close to the port that sees the problem shift progressively to other localities as port haulage responds to the curtailing of port access routes.

 

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