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
Full article below.