The Current Situation

Many communities face transport issues, but ours is making us sick.

The City of Maribyrnong is a toxic hotspot in Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city. The problem is trucks: 21,000 of them every day in Melbourne’s inner west. They emit diesel pollution over our houses, our schools, our kindergartens and childcare centres. And they make our streets unsafe for other road users.

The truck problem originates at the Port of Melbourne. The City of Maribyrnong is right next door and slap bang in the middle between the port and distribution warehouses and container yards further to the west. Melbourne’s port is Australia’s largest container terminal.

Every day these trucks use our narrow residential streets that were designed in the 1800’s, long before the trucks. The trucks short cut through the inner west to find shorter routes or to avoid tolls and congestion on the freeways. These short haul trucks are often the oldest and dirtiest trucks on our roads.

 

port1

 

What’s the impact of 21,000 trucks every day?

Our community has a justifiable fear of air pollution. The World Health Organisation now describes diesel exhaust as a carcinogen. It causes respiratory problems and asthma, and can inhibit early childhood lung development. It also contributes to heart disease and obesity.

You can see the pollution everywhere, on our homes, footpaths, shop windows, but it’s what we can’t see: the ultrafine particles which are causing the greatest concern.

Noise is also a huge issue for residents along the roads used by trucks. The noise they generate is way above the VicRoads standards for freeways, and can lead to broken sleep and a range of health issues, including heart disease, mental illness and a shortened life span.

The community is also understandably concerned about the safety risks for road users – such as pedestrians, cyclists, drivers – who are sharing 19th century roads with massive trucks. And recent proposals to allow even bigger trucks on streets through Maribyrnong has escalated these concerns.

But the problems are not only felt by the community. Trucks drivers do not like having to share roads with pedestrians and cyclists, they don’t want to deal with parked and reversing cars, or traffic lights and pedestrian crossing. And truck drivers don’t like being the target of community outrage and negative media stories.

Curfews, congestion and missing road links restrict freight movements and increase travel times. This has an impact on productivity. With container numbers expected to double in 10 years, it is going to be hard for Melbourne Port to remain world class, and with a growing population in the west, Melbourne’s liveability is being severely impacted.

 

st augustines

 

Curfews

The community fought hard and won night-time and weekend curfews for some parts of the inner west in 2001. The curfews currently in place are:

Francis Street, Yarraville

8pm-6am Monday to Friday

1pm Saturday to 6am Monday

Somerville Road, Yarraville

8pm-6am Monday to Friday

1pm Saturday to 6am Monday

The formation of a working group by Maribyrnong City Council, VicRoads, the EPA and the Department of Health in late 2013, was prompted by MTAG and community lobbying with the final straw being the EPA monitoring of diesel pollution on Francis Street in 2012-2013. The final analysis showed that Francis Street is Australia’s most polluted residential street. It’s a toxic hotspot as ranked by Environmental Justice Australia in their “Clearing the Air” report in 2014.

The “Trucks in the Inner West” working group focussed on short-term measures which would lessen the impact of truck traffic on residents while we wait for infrastructure solutions. A Truck Movement Survey was undertaken to identify and track truck movements in, and through, the inner west. The report demonstrated that more than 55% of the truck traffic in the inner West is through traffic with no reason to be in the local area – no surprises there!

truck numbers

As a result, in October 2014, VicRoads announced additional curfews for:

Moore Street, Footscray

8pm-6am Monday to Friday

1pm Saturday to 6am Monday

This curfew has an exemption for drivers accessing the Tottenham container yards.

Somerville Road, Yarraville

8:00am-9:30am and 2:30pm-4:00pm Monday to Friday (school crossing hours)

And in July 2016 VicRoads announced a school crossing time curfew for Francis Street, Yarraville.

While these announcements are welcomed by MTAG, they will not fix the problem – there’s no silver bullet without infrastructure. And curfews on one residential street will often push truck traffic onto others.  VicRoads have assured us that these curfews are “just the start” so we eagerly await the next step.

 

moore st

 

 

To see what nights are currently like for Moore Street residents watch here 

To see how school children are impacted by the trucks on Somerville Road watch here