MTAG met with representatives of Transurban on 29 September, for the purpose of a briefing on the second stage of the Western Distributor proposal.
We now have a better idea of some aspects of the proposal – including their rationale for shifting the southern portal to the new location of the northern edge of Stoney Creek in order to create a new route for trucks with placarded loads.
However the concerns that we’ve previously expressed – about best-practice filtration and truck curfews – are unresolved. The proposal as it stands at this point does not guarantee the outcomes we’re seeking.
Transurban is making no commitment to anything other than unfiltered air from vent stacks at each end of the tunnels. They argue that they will comply with existing legislation, but MTAG does not accept that that will lead to an acceptable outcome.
As a private corporation engaged in a commercial operation, they legitimately argue that they are not in a position to make any commitments to 24 hour truck curfews on local roads. That is a political responsibility.
They argue that they are, instead, seeking to create economic incentives which will make it more logical for truck owners to travel through their tunnel at $13/run rather than tackling numerous traffic lights through suburban streets.
MTAG can only conclude, then, that without a commitment from government to 24 hour truck curfews, the trucking industry will continue to use those local roads as a convenient rat run.
MTAG is also concerned about the loss of green space associated with this amended design. We support the objective of catering for trucks with placarded loads, but it appears that that will be at the expense of Stony Creek Reserve, and with substantial impact on residents on the southern side of Francis Street. The day after our meeting, Transurban have announced that changes and refinements to the design will continue.
To reiterate, we support better road infrastructure as one part of a solution to getting trucks off local streets.
However, if that infrastructure is to be built and owned by a private corporation, with the revenue it generates flowing back to that corporation, then we at least deserve truck bans with regulatory teeth, and international best practice on ventilation stacks resulting in the best possible outcomes for the community as a whole.
We encourage you to continue to give Transurban your feedback here and attend their community consultation sessions:
Design update information session – South Kingsville
Thursday 8 October, 4pm-8pm
South Kingsville Community Centre
43 Paxton Street, South Kingsville
Design update information session – Yarraville
Saturday 10 October, 9.30am – 1pm
135 Stephen Street, Yarraville
We’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that MTAG are a small group of volunteers who do this in their spare time, around families and day jobs. We need your backing to ensure we can keep fighting for this community and the more members we have, the stronger our voice. Please consider becoming an MTAG financial member – individual membership is just $20 per year and $30 for families.