5 point Truck Action Plan: An alternative to Westlink Tunnel

April 23, 2010 42 Comments

MTAG acknowledges the traffic problems the State Government is attempting to solve with the proposed Westlink Tunnel under Footscray. We also acknowledge the positive commitment by the government to the Truck Action Plan Stage 1, which includes on/off ramps from the Westgate Bridge – an essential component of the overall solution to truck traffic problems in the inner west. However, while there are serious traffic issues in Footscray that urgently need tackling, we do not believe that the Westlink Tunnel is the best solution. Our central concern is that the tunnel will not solve problems but rather shift them from central Footscray into West Footscray and Sunshine. As such, the Westlink Tunnel is not a proposal we can support. Instead, we have developed a 5-Point Plan that does have wide community support, that will solve problems with truck traffic in Footscray, and which will bring considerable other environmental and social benefits. It will also cost a fraction of the budget of the proposed Westlink Tunnel.

1. Sunshine Road Westgate Freeway Link

WHAT – A new truck route which would run west of Dempster and Sredna Streets Tottenham connecting Sunshine Rd and West Gate Freeway.
WHY – Container terminals and other industry in Tottenham, Brooklyn, Braybrook, and Sunshine generate a very significant proportion of the truck traffic using Buckley St, Geelong Rd and Moore St Footscray. The most efficient way to remove these trucks from these residential streets is to create a truck route from Sunshine Rd west of Sredna and Dempster Streets in Tottenham, which continues south to the West Gate Freeway. This route would run through industrial land rather than abut residential areas.
HOW – See Map fig. 1 below for a possible route. Note that VicRoads has already planned an upgrade for much of the route described. The two critical differences are that the MTAG route runs an extra kilometre to the Westgate Freeway and also removes trucks from Dempster and Sredna Streets maintaining them as residential streets.

2. Establish and enforce a network of designated truck routes.

WHAT – The designation and enforcement of a network of principal freight routes around Maribyrnong. This network would apply to all trucks without a local origin or destination and would consist of: (1) West Gate Freeway (2) Western Ring Road (3) Sunshine Rd- Westgate link (4) Westgate ramps – Hyde St- Whitehall St – Footscray Rd route. All other roads in Maribyrnong would be restricted to local freight only. This would include: Francis St, Somerville Rd, Williamstown Rd, Buckley St, Moore St, Geelong Rd, Whitehall St north of Napier St, Ashley St and Sunshine Rd.
WHY – There are currently more than 20,000 trucks a day using the streets of Maribyrnong; many of them have no local origin or destination. This truck traffic creates a host of problems for residents including serious health impacts and residential amenity issues problems for road users.
HOW – The network needs to be established, publicised and enforced through appropriate curfew legislation and enforcement. We propose that trucks needing to use roads other than the designated network (i.e. local trucks) would be fitted with a GPS unit so they could be tracked and their status as local traffic validated.

3. Freight efficiencies

WHAT – (1) Ensure trucks on the roads have full loads to reduce overall traffic. (2) Create incentives for trucks to travel at night.
WHY – Many trucks in the inner west travel one way empty and often even when laden may only be carrying a half load. In addition, trucks clog roads during daytime and peak hours creating inefficiencies.
HOW – Use logistics management and incentives to ensure that trucks entering and leaving the port have a full load.

4. Freight onto rail

WHAT – Recommit to substantial portion of port freight onto rail. Previously the target was set at 30% by 2010 and then dropped altogether. We call on the government to commit to 40% of freight onto rail by 2020.
WHY – Rail freight has less impact on residential amenity, is less polluting, and uses resources more efficiently.
HOW – (1) Establish three intermodal multi-user hubs (Laverton North, Somerton and Dandenong) as outlined in Freight Futures Strategy by 2015 with appropriate rail links to port. (2) Create level playing field for costs associated with rail transport as compared with road, in particular with regard to stevedoring charges (currently four times higher for rail freight than road).

5. Public transport for commuters.

WHAT – Commit to a goal of 60% of peak hour commuter traffic travelling to the inner city from the west using public transport by 2020.
WHY – This will take traffic off existing roads especially the Westgate Freeway removing the need for a tunnel.
HOW – (1) Fast-tracking of the Melbourne Metro project (part of Victorian Transport Plan) which will provide an underground line linking Footscray to Parkville, CBD and the Domain (2) Duplication and electrification of the rail line to Melton (as outlined in Victorian Transport Plan). (3) Increased frequency of services along all existing rail lines servicing the west. Fast and frequent bus links to railway stations

Read the story published in the Mail April 21

Janet Rice, Martin Wurt, and Lisel Thomas from MTAG

Full article below.

42 responses to "5 point Truck Action Plan: An alternative to Westlink Tunnel"

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    Great work!

  • JB says: (Edit)

    No Brainer!

  • Steve Hansby says: (Edit)

    Just a basic comment in relation to point 3. When i look at Francis and Sommerville with the trucks rattling along most of them are going to the container yards. if we were able to get those closer to the port we would have less pollution, less movements and trucks would not be driving past resideneces in most cases.The problem is that if you simply limit those trucks to being local traffic accepted whilst it is of some help fails the basic problem. GET RID OF THE CONTAINER PARKS ! Council is able to do this but seems to lack the imagination or inclination to do so.

  • Roisin Ruddy says: (Edit)

    As a resident of Dempster st, this does look like a better option - I wonder though, what about taking the proposed route (the MTAG purple line on the map) just another bit further to the left, and a little bit further away from Sredna St. Also, I'd like to see more discussion of Stony Creek, particularly the area between Cala St, Paramount Road and beyond, and how the truck route will attempt to protect and improve the creek. Birdlife life such as Black Cockatoos and the Nankeen Night Heron are just 2 of the birds I have seen recently in that neglected part of the creek, as well as frogs and snakes. I hope any new road will tread carefully where the creek is concerned.

  • Peter says: (Edit)

    Good ideas here... thanks In response to Roisin: I think you're dead right, our map is just a sketch. We would certainly be supporting whichever alignment that has the least impact on residents. As far as Stony Creek goes: I totally agree and we have pushed hard for the route that has the least impact on Stony Creek and this is the preferred route for VicRoads. It hugs the bridge on both sides then turns fairly sharply into Hyde St. In addition, these ramps represent a huge opportunity for Stony Creek to have some really decent funding put into enhancing the natural habitats that exist. We have been pushing hard for this too. Thanks for the input and the support Cheers

  • Paul says: (Edit)

    Hi Peter, I am interested as to where you got the information that Vic Roads preferred route 'hugs the bridge', as the drawings I've seen veer off much sooner and cross Hyde Street Reserve, connecting Hyde Street in a more northerly position than indicated in your sketches. The main concern for me and my neighbours in the block between Francis Street and the Freeway is the impact of noise. The wind tends to blow up the mouth of the Yarra - so noise from the bridge (particulalry trucks) is already a big problem for us. I am concerned about how increasing the number of trucks closer to my home and the increse in noise will effect our living standard an am keen to ensure that if you are advocating to move the problem onto my front door that you will also lobby for appropriate sound bariiers and compensations (as in Adelaide where houses near the airport extension received money to double glaze).

  • Peter says: (Edit)

    There are about five options that we were shown each with different alignments. VicRoads told us the one that was favoured was as I describe. It will represent a great outcome for the inner west. We have lobbied hard for sound barriers and for measure to protect Stony Creek and open up access to the reserve for everyone. We're aware that there is no perfect solution but we're really trying hard to secure an outcome that will have minimal negative outcomes and that will get trucks off residential streets. Thanks for your interest.

  • Janet Rice says: (Edit)

    Absolutely right that we need more information. It's all in the business case that is currently before government but not being released to the public. Colleen Hartland has put in an FOI request for the consultants reports, and all documents relating to the assessment of options, including how well they considered ( or didn't) the option of having the ramps south of the freeway.

  • Paul says: (Edit)

    From a media release from the Minister for Roads and Ports regarding today's budget: '$21 million for planning and early works on the Truck Action Plan and WestLink from the Brumby Labor Government’s $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan as announced last year, including a $6.2 million Commonwealth contribution.' Not much more detail yet I'm afraid.

  • Robert says: (Edit)

    This does not seem fair. Why are we in the south of Sunshine and Geelong Rd more deserving of yet another massive road? Add more pressure to the Westgate Freeway, more trucks? Most of this traffic is ring-road bound. These old industrial sites (by freeway) should be made residential and west Yarraville, Kingsville and Brooklyn joined up. Not carved up by another massive road.

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    Damn right it's not fair. It makes no sense at all. Given the traffic projections they are basing all this on and projections of the growth of population in the inner west it will be a disaster. They are planning on bringing the tunnel out smack bang in the middle of a burgeoning residential area. This ridiculous tunnel plan will create problems for thousands of people the moment it is completed and severely curtail the future potential of West Footscray and Sunshine.

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    Wont Spotswood be the loser out of building these new on and off ramps? What about for people living on The Avenue, wont they have these ramps right in front of them. What about the additional noise from having these ramps up so high. Why should Spotswood residents have ramps over their parks to take trucks off streets in Yarraville when most Yarraville residents knew the problem of Trucks when they bought there. From what I can see it will move the problem off Francis street and out of Yarraville and into neighbouring Spotswood.

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    No Spotswood won't be the loser, have a look at the preferred route it will make no difference to the residents of The Avenue. There will be hardly any loss of parkland... look at the map http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/web23/Home.nsf/AllDocs/934BAC46EACE7B43CA257625001C8FB8?OpenDocument What we have in Yarraville is a very serious health and safety issue, Francis St is the most polluted street in Australia with 7000 trucks a day, Somerville Rd has 3000 trucks a day and two primary schools only meters from the street. These ramps will solve these problems and will have little or no impact on Spotswood... how about just a little bit of empathy for what residents in Yarraville have had put up with for long enough. And just a matter of history... the truck traffic problems here has worsened exponentially since the completion of Western Ring Rd and Bolte Bridge about ten years ago. Most residents have been here much longer than that.

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    I dont mean to sound unsympathetic and I do feel for the residences this affects. I do get a little angry reading some comments like Janet's saying they should consider ramps south of the freeway, which is saying we dont want them in Yarraville put them in Spotswood. Until I see final proposals I am not totally convinced the ramps wont be an eyesore and contribute to noise and pollution levels in Spotswood.

  • Janet Rice says: (Edit)

    Stuart, the reason for proposing that the ramp could be south of the freeway was to keep them away from the stony creek reserve. we still haven't got the results of Colleen's FOI request which was to get information about how much they had considered this as an option, as from what we could glean from discussions it seemed not much. Looking at the small map of the final route that has been chosen there is one ramp on either side of the freeway. We need to see a more detailed map and the detailed flora and fauna vicroads has done but not released before making an assessment of what impact the ramp on the Yarraville side will have on the stony creek reserve.

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    Hi Janet. I can understand wanting to keep the ramp away from Stony creek reserve, but hopefully you can understand wanting to keep the ramps away from parks and sporting ovals also. The additional amount of traffic over these surely cannot be good for people using these facilities. To me the idea of building ramps over both reserves or parks is not ideal. If the ramps look anything like what has just been built on the other side of the freeway both Spotswood and Yarraville are in for a concrete jungle. I will be interested in finding out what Hobsons Bays opinion of the ramps are. Again I do feel for the frustration the trucks cause. I'm just not sure if this is the best option but again I will wait to see final proposals.

  • Janet Rice says: (Edit)

    definitely agree Stuart - and definitely agree on needing to have more detailed info on the details of the placement and their impact. I have always seen the ramps as the least worst option of road improvements - they are a relatively low impact, relatively low cost, (and hence relatively quick ) way of getting trucks off francis st and somerville rd without massively increasing road capacity at massive expense which is what a tunnel and freeway would do. In an ideal world we wouldn't need the ramps - the government could, through improving pt and getting freight on rail, free up enough capacity on the westgate so we don't need any new road infrastructure at all, and still ban trucks from francis st and somerville rds. But they are so far away from doing that that my judgment ( and I'm open and accepting that others might not agree with me here) is that if we went down this route of advocating for no new road infrastructure it would have very little public support and condemn the residents of francis st and somerville rds to truck nightmares for many years to come.

  • James says: (Edit)

    The proposed alignment of the ramps (one on each side of the Freeway) is a much better option than a fly-over originating in the Reserve. The noise the traffice would make traversing the fly-over would not be a good outcome for those living between Francis St and the Freeway.

  • Gavin Bellis says: (Edit)

    I was at the presentation at Whitten Oval on Saturday (24/07) and have to say that the people who were on hand to answer any questions couldn't provide any answers. The fact that there was no one there from local or State Govt. is an absolute insult and, cowardly. I was also interviewed by Channel 7, this was aired that night. The purple line represents a far better option however I think it could still move further into the industrial area. The govt has mentioned charging a toll for use of the tunnel, as much as $180 a trip. I think this would increase the volume of trucks in the residential area's. This would also suggest that there ROI calculations don't stack up.

  • maryann Augustinus says: (Edit)

    I found out that the proposed tunnel was exiting next to my house ??? on the channel 7 news on friday night the 23rd of July! I subsequently went to the sunshine uni presentation. The representative was very evasive but did say that the 'aqua route was their preferred option. He also stated that although the exit to the 6 lane truck freeway would only be 100 meters from my house 'I would not be affected! and therefore no compensation will be offered! I was so shocked at the ridiculousness of this statement it took me a few minutes to respond. It is clear that west footscray and its residents are expendable. My next door neighbours house is to be demolished (Indwe street), 5 in all but what about the others that are left to choke in the diesel fumes. Why dont they continue the tunnel to avoid displacing the footscray residence? I am one of many VERY angry residents who plan to fight this plan all the way!

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    I still cant see how taking trucks of Main roads, and building more roads over a golf course, nature reserve, parks and sporting ovals is a good solution?

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    I guess you don't know the area so well then. These are not main roads they are residential streets. Somerville Rd 3000 trucks a day meters away from two primary schools, lined with houses both sides. Francis St 7000 trucks a day childcare centre, community centre, lined with houses on both sides for most of its length, asthma rates 3 times higher than national average, highest diesel pollution levels measured in Australia. Do I really need to go on? And the sporting ovals and golf course will still function perfectly. In fact the extra resources that will be directed to them as part of this project will create even better facilities than those which currently exist. Fantastic solution! Everyone wins. But our priority is residents' health which is badly compromised by the current situation, and especially the health of children. The children at these primary schools and daycare centres will be the biggest long term winners. This project is an excellent solution. The route proposed is the right route with the least impact on Stony Creek and sports facilities.

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    Bill you saying this project is an excellent solution is purely your opinion. Children and people will still be affected by the pollution it will just move from these roads in Yarraville to open spaces where people go to play sport and get fresh air. My son attends the footy clinic at the Donald Mclean reserve. The additional number of trucks that would use the ramp along here surely cannot be good for these kids to breath in while they play sport? Why would I be happy with the pamps as a result? Again I feel for the people this affects, but I still do not see this as a solution, just moving the problem elsewhere.

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    Trucks that stop start as they do in our residential streets produce much more pollution that those that move smoothly along a purpose built road. The pollution on Don Mclean Reserve will be a fraction of what is pumped into people's homes and into primary schools currently. You're right there is no perfect solution, I wish there was but this project will deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of people and that's not a matter of opinion at all. Even if you were right and the pollution levels on Don Mclean Reserve do increase your son spends a matter of hours there each week. Kids in schools on Somerville Rd are breathing these fumes 8 hours a day 5 days a week for most of the year. It just doesn't compare. This does not move the problem, it actually will bring positive benefits to a huge number of people. That's why MTAG backs it, that's why The Greens back it, that's why the State Government is funding it, that's why Maribyrnong Council backs it...

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    I am not denying it will have positive benefits for the residence of Yarraville. It certainly will and i can see why Maribyrnong council backs it. But will it have negative affects on Spotswood from what we current have, yes I think so. I have spoken with Hobsons bay council and they share the same concerns I do.

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    It won't so much bring benefits to the people of Yarraville as merely give them back what everyone else in Melbourne takes for granted... homes and schools that are not filled with dangerous diesel pollution. The parochialism of Hobsons Bay Council on this issue is frankly pathetic. That a person elected to a position of responsibility could say the situation which currently exists in Yarraville should continue is selfish and irresponsible. This is nothing more than petty politics over serious issues of health and safety.

  • Janet Rice says: (Edit)

    the most important part of solving truck traffic in maribyrnong and brimbank is yet to have any substantial investment or focus by the government despite it being in their freight paln - and that's to build the intermodal transport hub in the derrimut-/laverton area in the midst of all the warehouses that these trucks are heading to; and provide the rail infrastructure and shuttle freight trains to and from the port. Then, all the containers that are currently being transported through our streets by road can go by rail. Get 30% of prt related freight on rail and stop the running of empty and half empty trucks and the number of trucks heading to and from the port would drop to almost half.

  • James says: (Edit)

    Hi Stuart I share your concerns with the golf course and oval - but also Hyde Street Reserve. i live in the streets between the Freeway and Francis St the noise from the freeway is greater than Francis St at night. A flyover in Hyde Street Reserve would be a major blow to all the residents in this block (about 7 streets)as trucks make most noise breaking and going up hill. That's why I think splitting the ramps on either side is the best option - and will keep the pathway alongside the freeway. Bill tends to bang on about all the great benefits to the sporting clubs and the Reserve without actually having any facts ("In fact the extra resources that will be directed to them as part of this project will create even better facilities than those which currently exist." - where is this information listed Bill?)

  • Ray stan says: (Edit)

    Does anyone know if the 12 houses in dempster street will be demolished?

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    No word that I'm aware of

  • chris says: (Edit)

    I live off The Avenue in Spotswood - in the section south of Donald McLean Reserve - and I have some queries regarding any impact on our neighbourhood of the Truck Action Plan Preferred Route:

    1. Precisely where and how will the truck route impact on Donald McLean Reserve (including how much of the park and which part will be lost or have a road above it)?
    2. Where will the truck route run in relation to the West Gate Bridge westbound off-ramp (will it run north or south of it and will it be elevated above it (and how high) or will the ramp be elavated)?
    3. Will noise barriers be erected along the southern side of the new route/West Gate Bridge off-ramp (whichever is furthest to the south) in order to lessen the impact of any increased traffic?

  • Aaron says: (Edit)

    Anyone have any updates as to what is happening with these projects. Have they totally cancelled it or re-evaluating. The government is going to have to do something if yarraville gardens on francis st is going ahead. 1000 new houses would suggest another 2000 odd cars in the area.

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    No updates I'm afraid. New govt has not given any indication, though it would seem bizarre if they thought they could put another couple of thousand cars on Francis St without building the ramps to get rid of the trucks. I think the planning approval probably indicates that it is in their thinking.

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    No answer to Chris's question above?

  • Bill says: (Edit)

    http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/RoadProjects/PlanningAndProposals/Melbourne/TruckActionPlan.htm

  • Stuart says: (Edit)

    http://news.domain.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/best-streets-spotswood-20101129-18ctv.html?posted=successful

  • Mike says: (Edit)

    I stand by my earlier comments, that we have to stop trusting governments and big business. If we don't use people power and take affirmative action, we will continue to be rolled. Politically, we seem to be over-run by welded on labour voters who are too stupid to realise that no perty gives a stuff about safe seats. These voters suffer from the same tribal attitude as the footy supporters. They don't understand that they are under-minding our democracy by maintaing a safe labour seat. Perhaps I'm being unkind. It may be that they are suffering from braindamage due to prolonged exposure to traffic polution. For your information: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8234553

  • James says: (Edit)

    With Baillieu flagging a $5 Billion red hole in the Vic economy and a $60 million blow out on the Westgate strengthening project ( http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/west-gate-bridge-revamp-blows-out-20110414-1dg0i.html?comments=32#comments ) you can bet this will be pushed to the bottom of the pile for some time. This doesn't bother me - as I believe that increasing heavy transport infrastructure, widening roads, acquiring houses, losing parkland and attracting more trucks is not good for the area. The volume of traffic using Whitehall to get from the Westgate Bridge to Nth Melb, the city and Footscray will swell. More roads is not the answer - just look at what the Bolte was meant to deliver! I simply don't trust the govt that this move is purely in the interest of local residents - if it is done, it will be for the transport and Port industry - not us! I believe there are better options through enforcement- pushing the trucks onto Bolte as originally planned and waiving tolls (which is cost effective Vs the off ramps). We need to ask ourselves why don't they enforce curfews? I once heard directly from an ex Parliamentary Secretary at the time Bracks got into power that they had made promises (and he cited the truck curfews) with no idea of how they'd deliver it! They simply cannot be trusted. More roads and wider roads through our suburb will simply not improve the traffic situation.

  • Aaron says: (Edit)

    Why don't we all think outside the square here and come up with some alternative solutions. If the trucks don't want to pay Tolls on the Bolte, why not charge a Toll for trucks using residential streets in Yarraville and West Footscray. I am sure the Government could implement this for a fraction of the infrastructure costs of the other proposals and the benefit is any money that is raised could be put back into the community. I am sure you would cut 50-75% of trucks in the suburbs immediately. For the trucks on local deliveries, charge tolls first and then have a claim mechanism ie. signed and stamped form from a local retailer so as to not disadvantage local trade. Another alternative that would be cheap is height and/or width barriers on the streets. I am sure they could even have them electronically raise and lower inside & outside curfew times. Cameras Deter, Barriers Stop.

  • Roisin Ruddy says: (Edit)

    Whilst the current Westlink route/proposal is not, in my view, suitable for the residents of Tottenham, as a homeowner who desperately wants to leave the area, I really wish I knew either way what is happening with the road acquisition overlay. I hope that if the government decides not to go ahead, they will remove all current acquisition overlays from streets such as Dempster St, so that I can confidantly either do up my ailing house or sell it under normal market. If they are going ahead, I hope they hurry up and buy me out before my roof caves in and my stumps sink completely. Until then, I am stuck with a falling down house, not knowing if I should spend any money to keep it standing.

  • Roisin says: (Edit)

    Any word on Westlink yet? Doesn't sound like it was mentioned in the budget at all. I really would like to know either way! Considered my house would be acquired and all.

  • preceptor says: (Edit)

    A year ago I said that you guys were showing signs of burnout as a result of pursuing these issues over many year. The authorities have successfully worn you down and as a result won't do anything to change the situation. I say again that the only thing that will change the situation is direct action by a large number of people (residents or special interest groups). Unless this happens I'll be writing the same message next year. We need to inlist the active support of student groups and social justice political groups. We need to take steps to disrupt commercial traffic flows. I am 64 years old and don't have enough energy to lead the charge. However, there must be many younger people capable of taking on this role. Martin is a good guy who has put in a lot of work but he is not a political firebrand. And it is a political firebrand that is needed to get the people to rise up and take action to bring this matter to a head. It serves no purpose just writing reams and reams about your concerns. The authorities don't care what you say or think. They will continue to ignore us until we become a nuisance that they can't ignore. There needs to be a public outcry and calls of injustice. Yarraville must stop voting like donkeys and make this issue the deciding factor in who gets to represent us at all levels. Behaving like gentlemen doesn't work unless you are dealing with gentlemen. The way I see it is that there are only two choices become activists or continue complaining among yourselves. If you don't agree with me then tell me of a better strategy but don't try and convince that the existing strategy has or will produce any meaningful change. Because it won't, it is defeatist strategy to make you feel that you have at least tried to do something. The current approach has not produced any tangible benefits, so it is the wrong strategy today and will still be the wrong strategy in five years time. If you don't agree with me, don't waste your energy trying to prove me wrong. Channel your energy into direct action against the authorities.