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NatRoad calls for NorthConnex toll postponement

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The association says heavy vehicle operators will be up for unacceptably large costs when NorthConnex opens later this year

 

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says it has again called on the New South Wales Government to postpone the introduction of new tolls for the mandatory NorthConnex tunnel crossing when it commences operation in the coming months.

To date, NatRoad’s calls have been rejected, but it says the issue must urgently be addressed by government.

When NorthConnex opens, it will be mandatory for most heavy vehicles to use the tunnel, thereby incurring unacceptably large costs. Most heavy vehicle operators will be prohibited from using Pennant Hills Road.

"The cost of tolls on a route that trucks will be forced to take is too high, especially in a time of crisis. For example, a single truck doing two return trips a day say from Newcastle to Sydney, five days a week for 48 weeks a year will accumulate $22,109 in tolls," says Warren Clark, NatRoad chief executive officer.

"Many road freight transport companies are doing it tough due to the pandemic, and the mandatory tolls added to businesses costs in turbulent times could cause many to go out of business.

"In addition, whilst most heavy vehicles are required by government to use the tunnel and pay the toll, it is unclear how those who use Pennant Hills Road won’t be subjected to administrative overload by getting notices to show they were using the road lawfully. Heavy vehicles shouldn’t be forced to use the tunnel. It’s as simple
as that," Clark says.

"Whenever or wherever toll roads are built in Australia, road users should be given the choice of using a non-tolled road.

"The NSW government will deny heavy vehicle operators and drivers that essential freedom if the current policy is maintained. It is an unacceptable policy, and NatRoad has not given up on calling on its urgent review."

Late last year, at a NatRoad Forum held in Swansea, transport operators had the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding legislation surrounding the NorthConnex tunnel.

NorthConnex, which will link Sydney’s M2 and M1, is earmarked to charge trucks and buses $23.03 each way, rising with the CPI each year.

As well as the high toll charges, operators were irate over the lack of an alternative, toll-free route.

The NSW government modified the Road Traffic Act in 2017 to force truck drivers onto NorthConnex instead of using Pennant Hills Road.

Trucks and buses ignoring warning signs and continuing to use Pennant Hills Road will face fines of $191.

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