In its response to the West Gate Tunnel Environmental Effects Statement (EES), the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has made recommendations designed to make the proposed road more efficient and productive for operators.
“Our strategic assessment of the merits of the Environmental Effects Statement of the West Gate Tunnel Project, has determined the project will deliver a high level of benefit in providing an alternative to the West Gate Bridge and supporting the productivity and performance of the M1 corridor,” said Peter Anderson, CEO, VTA.
“While the project will assist in improving transport connections with the city and the western and inner western suburbs, the need for the Port of Melbourne (PoM) to grow and prosper is vital to the overall prosperity of Victoria, and this project must deliver on Melbourne’s future growth opportunities.”
Specifically, the VTA has recommended that plans to meter heavy-vehicle entry ramps be abandoned on safety grounds, and to keep truck traffic moving seamlessly.
“Heavy vehicles, regularly weighing between 55 and 65 tonne gross mass, have great difficulty in entering the freeway at freeway speeds from a standing start,” Anderson added. “The VTA maintains it will be safer and more efficient, and would not impede the flow of traffic onto the freeway, if the heavy-vehicle lane is not metered.”
The VTA submission also recommended an additional lane be added to the eastbound entry ramp from Millers Road to allow for safer entry to the freeway.
In relation to user charges, the VTA has strongly recommended tolls reflect the net impact upon the infrastructure in a fair and equitable way.
“The tolling regime should acknowledge the multiple user and shuttle service providers to the PoM at an agreed threshold of daily movement,” said Anderson. “The transport operator should be eligible for a discount on the current tolling rates that would encourage full usage of the system.”
The VTA also made recommendations regarding construction congestion and ensuring that the Port of Melbourne will not be negatively impacted during construction, noting that McKenzie Road is a vital link and the construction process must not lead to vehicle disruption and road closures.
Other recommendations were for design changes at various locations to enable better movement of freight and less congestion.