The West Gate Distributor

The West Gate Distributor proposal is for new on/off ramps that create a direct route for trucks to the Port of Melbourne from the West Gate Freeway. The West Gate Distributor will begin near Williamstown Road, then run through Yarraville’s industrial areas to Footscray Road and Swanson Dock. The road is estimated to take 5,000 trucks a day off the West Gate Bridge, and remove up to 1,000,000 trucks per year from residential streets in the inner west.

These truck bypass ramps were part of the Eddington study recommendations, and were promised by Labor in 2007, before they lost office.

Labor has pledged that this project will be fast tracked and completed within four years of them winning office.

The West Gate Distributor is estimated to cost around $500 million.

The Victorian Labor Party has said, “While the West Gate distributor will deliver huge benefits for Geelong, Ballarat and western suburban road commuters travelling over the West Gate Bridge, it will also deliver a significant productivity increase for the freight industry as journey times are reduced.”

The Greens support the building of the West Gate ramps, and their policies include $100 million Federal money towards this vital infrastructure.

The Public Transport Users Association has also publicly backed the construction of the West Gate ramps

Watch a video about The West Gate Distributor here.

Stage one

Expressions of Interest for the first stage of the project opened on 21st January.  The contract is expected to be awarded around mid 2015 with construction due to start in late 2015.  This stage invovles widening Moreland Street to four lanes, a new signalised intersection at the corner of Footscray Road and Moreland Street as well as the widening and strengthening of Shepherd’s Bridge.

For more information on Stage One see here

Stage two

Stage two of the project is the building of the new on and off ramps as well as the upgrading and duplication of Whitehall Street.  We have no information about this stage and how much it will differ from the 2007 Truck Action Plan.  VicRoads have told us that “the Government is committed to understanding and balancing the needs of the community, industry and the environment through a rigorous planning, investigation and consultation process before it delivers the remainder of the West Gate Distributor project”.  This community consultation process will apparently include a “wide range of local community and business stakeholders” and will inform the development of the remainder of the project before it’s released to the market.

What MTAG thinks

The West Gate Distributor is an important part of any solution for truck traffic problems in the inner west. Of all the proposed infrastructure solutions, the West Gate ramps have the broadest consensus across our community.  Removing millions of trucks each year from our residential streets will give vast numbers of residents cleaner air, better sleep and safer streets.

MTAG believes that this road project must be partnered by a blanket truck curfew on residential streets in the inner west to ensure that trucks use it.

 

UPDATE
The $40 million upgrade to Shepherd Bridge, a key element of Stage 1 of the West Gate Distributor (WGD), is scheduled to begin in early 2016. According to VicRoads, the plan for the first section of the WGD is to provide better travel for local traffic, pedestrians and cyclists and improve freight access to and from the Port of Melbourne by:
  • widening Moreland Street to provide a four lane divided road, with an upgraded connection to Footscray Road
  • new signalised intersections in Moreland Street at Footscray Road, Parker Street and Whitehall Street
  • the widening and strengthening of Shepherd’s Bridge over the Maribyrnong River with the removal of the pedestrian and cycling paths on the bridge
  • a new bridge over the Maribyrnong River for pedestrians and cyclists.
However, should Stages 2 and 3 of the WGD not be undertaken (which would be the case with the approval of the Western Distributor project), MTAG is concerned that this condemns Moreland, Napier, Buckley, Moore and Whitehall Streets to being heavy vehicle routes. The strengthening of Shepherd Bridge also provides access to our residential streets for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs), which can be up to 36.5 metres in length and 68.5 tonnes in weight.

 

 

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