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New guidelines seen boosting freight infrastructure

Funding rules welcomed but need for more improvements highlighted


More truck rest areas and better bridges are on the way, with the federal government announcing new funding guidelines.

The government re-opened applications for projects under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) and the Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) today.

The announcement confirmed that the government would invest $250 million in the programs, which also gained National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) approval.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chair David Smith observed that today’s announcement would result in more rest areas and better road access for safer and more productive trucks.

“Truck drivers need rest areas so they can take safety breaks and meet their compliance obligations. But there just aren’t enough rest areas on the road system,” Smith said.

“As far as the trucking industry is concerned, every new rest area on the roads is a win.”

The ATA sees upgrading bridges allowing the industry to use more modern truck configurations, which would result in lower costs, fewer truck movements and improved safety.

“For example, you need 42 standard semitrailer trips to deliver a thousand tonnes of freight,” Smith said.

“If the road and bridges are upgraded to handle B-doubles, you can deliver the same amount of freight in only 26 trips.”

However, the industry still wanted to see improvements to the funding guidelines.

“The rest areas funded under the heavy vehicle safety program should be required to meet the Austroads rest area guidelines,” Smith said.

“Austroads developed these guidelines in consultation with the industry.

“They set out the facilities that drivers should be able to expect at rest areas as a basic right.

“It is also essential that bridge and productivity upgrades be matched by automatic access for the appropriate class of truck.”

Read about the response to rest area guidelines, here

High productivity trucks need special permits to operate unless they are travelling on a defined network of roads.

 “When a bridge or road is upgraded under these programs, the local council should be required to add them to the defined network and not require trucking businesses to lodge expensive and time-consuming permit applications,” Smith noted.

“The Australian Government has every right to insist on this as a requirement – particularly since it is now going to fund up to 80 per cent of the cost of upgrade projects in rural and regional areas.”

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said the moves needed to be applied swiftly.

He said aligning the programs to operate concurrently makes sense from a planning perspective.

“Our roads and bridges are the arteries of our road freight system so continually renewing and upgrading them is essential in a country ruled by distance,” Clark said. “

“Time and time again, we’ve seen situations where one bridge with an inferior weight tolerance compared to others on a road freight route acts as a bottleneck on productivity.

“Funding an upgrade strategically can make the freight task so much more efficient.

“The better we can assess and classify road freight routes to reflect their capabilities and weaknesses, the easier it is to make them safer and more productive.”


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