Yesterday the Napthine government officially scrapped the Truck Action Plan, a truck bypass that would have removed over 1 million trucks every year from residential streets in the inner west. The VicRoads project was fully planned and shovel ready. This short sighted decision is bad for truckies, bad for the freight industry and disastrous for residents.
Premier Napthine has totally abandoned us to the trucks.
Funding was announced yesterday in the State Budget for stage 1 of the East-West freeway, linking the Eastern Freeway at Hoddle Street to City Link. The state government claims this project makes the Truck Action Plan obsolete. However stage 1 will not remove one single truck from our streets!
With this decision Premier Napthine has prioritised congestion on Hoddle Street over the health of tens of thousands of residents in Melbourne’s inner west. He has totally disregarded the huge body of evidence linking diesel exhaust with cancer.
We will be left waiting for over a decade for this project to remove its first truck from our community.
Here are the facts.
- We know that diesel exhaust causes cancer (World Health Organisation)
- We know the west has the highest levels of pollution recorded on a residential street, along with some of the highest noise recording (VicEPA) (The Age)
- We have the highest hospital admission rates in Victoria for children with respiratory ailments (Hospital admissions respiratory map)
- We know container traffic at Melbourne Port is estimated to double in the next 10 years sending even more trucks down our streets. (Melbourne Port)
Truckies and the freight industry need a 24/7 route to the port. Melbourne’s so called ‘World Class Port’ currently uses roads designed in the 1800’s to access the freeway systems. Industry needs a dedicated route to the Port that is free of curfews and away from residential areas. This will improve productivity across the industry and deliver time and fuel savings for truckies.
The completion date for the entire East West freeway, linking City Link to the Western Ring Road, is AT LEAST 15 years away. Stage 1 is due for completion in 2019, and this is dependant on Federal funding being forthcoming. The remaining stages have NO funding and NO indicative project completion dates.
We are likely to be left waiting for close to two decades OR MORE for this project to remove its first truck from our community.
The completed East West freeway will not make the need for the Westgate truck bypass. In his 2008 East-West Transport Report, Sir Rod Eddington said the Truck Action Plan was vital to removing trucks from residential streets and that the East West freeway would compliment the Westgate truck bypass – not replace it!
It is obvious our health is not of concern to Napthine. Just from an economic view this decision is also short sited. The NSW EPA estimated in 2003 that air pollution in the greater Sydney metropolitan area costs the State up to $8.4 billion annually. This includes costs for hospital admissions, doctor visits, medicine and lost productivity due to respiratory issues.
So where to now for MTAG?
The government scrapping of the truck bypass has strengthened our resolve to fight. MTAG will continue to campaign for social justice on this issue. We will carry out more public actions including road blockades, continue lobbying government and freight industry for solutions and keep alerting the public to the mounting evidence of the dangers diesel exhaust pose to our families and community.
Listen to MTAG’s Martin Wurt discussing the scrapping of the Truck Action plan with ABC’s Jon Faine. (Listen here at the 9:53 mark)
Join us in the fight, support us by becoming an MTAG member