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THE biggest expansion of inner west truck curfews in a decade is facing stiff opposition from major industry and VicRoads.
A report to last night's Maribyrnong Council community and services special committee recommended that the council lobby the state government to introduce a curfew on Moore Street, Footscray, and extend current weekend curfews to operate between 8pm Friday and 6am Monday.
The recommendations stem from a review by the truck curfew review committee (TCRC), made up of three Maribyrnong councillors and representatives of VicRoads, Hobsons Bay Council, Victoria Police, EPA, Department of Transport, Port of Melbourne Corporation, Transport Workers Union and affected residents.
Yarraville night and weekend truck curfews were introduced on Somerville Road in 2001 and in Francis Street the following year.
The curfews ban trucks heavier than 4.5 tonnes using the roads from 8pm to 6am Monday to Saturday, and 1pm Saturday to 6am Monday, other than on local business.
But Moore Street, Footscray, has been hit hard by extra night-time truck traffic — up almost 40 per cent in the 12 months to last March and 400 per cent heavier than in 2006.
Round-the-clock truck movements have more than doubled on the street since 2006 to an average of 2647 a day.
Inner west traffic volumes could double as port freight traffic moves from 2.5 million containers a year to more than 5 million by 2025.
An officer recommendation to last night's meeting flagged requesting that the state government extend weekend curfews, introduce truck curfews to Moore Street between Ballarat Road and Hopkins Street, and seek alternatives to better link truck traffic to the Port of Melbourne.
"Although the night and weekend truck curfews in Somerville Road and Francis Street work, to a large extent, in reducing truck volumes through these streets during curfew hours, residents express the need for curfews to be more rigorously enforced and extended to weekends and also to other streets in the municipality to address amenity and safety concerns."
The Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) backs curfew extensions, but the move is being resisted by VicRoads DoT, TWU, the Port and local industry.
The report found key issues of concern to residents include noise and diesel fumes from trucks, vibration from trucks shaking houses, pavement damage and the use of engine brakes, safety hazards for pedestrians and cyclists, hazardous goods spilling from truck loads, and environmental and health impacts.
Some truck drivers flout the "rather vague" definition of "local area" in the road rules and use it to travel through streets with curfews.
The committee agreed on the need for more freight moving by rail to intermodal terminals and a better link between the Westgate Freeway and port. "Such a link could support freight productivity, enhance the efficient performance of the Port of Melbourne, provide critical redundancy to the West Gate Bridge and alleviate amenity issues in the inner west."
A spokeswoman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder said VicRoads would not be acting on curfews until the end of a 12-month Environment Protection Authority noise and air pollution study in Francis Street.
This article first appeared on www.maribyrnongweekly.com.au
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