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Victorian curfew blitz renews truck initiative calls

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Partnership not persecution the more progressive policy for problem

Victorian curfew blitz renews truck initiative calls
VTA CEO Peter Anderson and MTAG president Martin Wurt

 

A recent VicRoads operation in Melbourne’s inner-west targeting heavy vehicle curfew breaches has renewed calls to implement a cleaner freight solution as a middle ground between the needs of industry and community.

The curfews apply from 8pm-6am Monday-Saturday, 1pm Saturday to 6am Monday, and school pick-up and drop-off times to anyone not making local deliveries around the Yarraville and Footscray areas, with some residential roads considered rat runs between the Port of Melbourne and major highway connections.

The blitz targeted tyres, steering, and registration, with 10 drivers penalised for breaching curfews or for being overloaded, defective or unregistered.

VicRoads manager of transport safety services Russell Greenland told the news bulletin that there are "a range of excuses but generally they don’t see the signs which is a bit of a concern because they’re flashing"

Those who deliberately or mistakenly breach the curfew are in line for fines up to $661 for B-doubles.

In response, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) tells ATN it has been actively communicating with operators in the inner west about the curfews in effect "and we are encouraged that the overwhelming majority are observing them".

The West Gate Tunnel project, set for completion in 2022, is one solution acknowledged to eventually alleviate traffic in the area.

However, "In the interim, we believe the implementation of the Cleaner Freight Initiative [CFI], which the VTA developed with the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group [MTAG], and which is supported by the City of Maribyrnong, will make an enormous improvement to amenity in the inner west," VTA CEO Peter Anderson adds.

The VTA and MTAG proposed the CFI last year, which was a plan designed to lessen the impacts of freight movements on the inner west community while maintaining economic productivity until the West Gate Tunnel opens.

The initiative proposes a series of requirements that trucks and truck drivers need to meet to qualify for access to the inner west for extended curfew-free times.

"The Initiative would result in better trained drivers operating in the area, not to mention greater uptake of low-emission prime movers with Euro 5 engines or greater," Anderson says.

"Our proposal has been with the minister and VicRoads for many months now, and we are naturally keen for sign off so we can start to implement the initiative."

While Victorian transport minister Melissa Horne is quoted in the news bulletin stressing the importance of "protecting the amenity in the community", a government spokesperson tells ATN its priority is to "strike a balance" between industry and community, and discussions are ongoing around the specifics of the initiative’s implementation – a stance also reaffirmed by VicRoads.

"It is crucial to strike a balance between the needs of the inner-west community and truck operators – ensuring a safe environment for people living in the areas while allowing the freight industry to operate effectively," the spokesperson says.

"Representatives from Freight Victoria and VicRoads have met with the VTA and MTAG to discuss implementing key aspects of the CFI proposal.

"Some aspects of the initiative are under further investigation to support effective implementation.

"The Department and VicRoads is meeting again with the VTA, MTAG and the City of Maribyrnong at a further meeting scheduled for later this month."

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