VicRoads have released their latest truck counts and launched a campaign to encourage trucks to use the freeway system at night.
The good news is that Somerville Road truck traffic has decreased significantly since the new school crossing time curfew was introduced. There has been a 76% drop in truck traffic during school crossing times, and a 10 – 34% reduction overall. This curfew has been incredibly successful at improving the walk to school for almost 2000 children at the three schools along Somerville Road. The reduction in noise and pollution levels is obvious to all who live on and use the road regularly and we have received feedback from many parents that they are now walking and riding to school more often.
Moore Street has seen a decrease of 41% during the night and weekend curfew times. This is a step in the right direction but unfortunately the generous exemption zone has prevented a more significant reduction. Feedback on this curfew remains mixed, it’s a definite improvement but residents are still dealing with high truck numbers every night.
As predicted Buckley Street and Williamstown Road, which have no curfews, have seen an increase in night and weekend truck numbers. On the plus side the increase on these streets is not as high as the decrease on Moore Street. (Could we actually have moved some trucks onto the freeway!) It does show however that residents on these streets are highly impacted and this will only get worse as the years go by. Night and weekend curfews will only work if they apply to all streets of the inner west.
Francis Street has also borne the brunt of the new curfews particularly at night and particularly between 5am and 6am. We also believe that Wembley Primary school students also need a school crossing curfew as the truck traffic and subsequent pollution they are exposed to at those times is dangerously high.
MTAG believe we still need more curfews to protect those most vulnerable in the community while we wait for infrastructure. We have noticed a higher level of enforcement from VicRoads and we urge them to keep this up. We are pleased to see that 170 fines have been issued to truck drivers this year however we believe trucks need a higher deterrent than the current fine of $148. The fine for breaking a curfew should be at least as high as the fine for dropping a lit cigarette butt of $563.
MTAG agrees with the relaunch of the ‘Take the Easy Way, Take the Freeway’ campaign and we are heartened at the words of VTA CEO Peter Anderson such as “with community members expressing concerns about the effect of truck traffic on their wellbeing, drivers and operators have an opportunity to further enhance their professionalism by taking the West Gate Freeway/Bolt Bridge route at night”. Having said that, it remains to be seen if a campaign such as this can actually change driver behavior. This was originally rolled out with the completion of CityLink. Obviously the campaign didn’t work then, or we wouldn’t have the problem we have today. Can it work a second time round, relaunched and rebranded? We’d love to believe it could…. but are yet to be convinced!
The government have also announced a $600 000 upgrade to the Napier Street bridge, Melbourne’s most hit bridge. This will go towards realigning the protection barriers to prevent trucks hitting the bridge at an angle causing containers to fall onto the footpath. It will make the footpath safer for pedestrians, however it is extremely disappointing that this will do nothing to reduce truck numbers on this road or even to prevent trucks hitting the bridge. MTAG will continue to advocate for a reduction of truck numbers on Buckley Street.
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