Balance sought in haulage debate

THE cooperation of the local freight industry is crucial to the successful implementation of major changes to the State’s freight network.

Transport Forum chief executive officer Howard Croxon said he believed all the players involved in the review of the State’s freight network stood to benefit from the process.

Despite this he warned that there were some players in the industry who believed the community groups involved had hijacked the process.

“We believe these sorts of things, from time to time, are very useful and everybody gets something out of it,’ Mr Croxon said.

“When you do a review you’ve got to take as broad as possible a view of all participants.

“Some in the industry are of the view that the point of view of community groups has had a fairly strong influence on the outcome. And that, overall, the industry view hasn’t been listened to.”

Mr Croxon said it was important to identify designated freight routes with regard to the freight network through metropolitan Perth.

Over time a number of designated freight routes around the city have attracted residential and commercial development alongside the road.

“What has happened is that traffic management has caused the introduction of a number of things, such as traffic lights,” Mr Croxon said.

“On Leach Highway between Kewdale and Fremantle there are 26 sets of traffic lights.

“If you’re driving a truck every time you stop and start you introduce a whole host of issues – noise, the energy required to start moving and the potential for people to cut in on heavy trucks.

“These issues can be overcome by controlling the access to highways, as is the case with Tonkin and Roe highways, which were initially designed to go virtually from the Great Eastern Highway around Kewdale and Canning Vale and continue on to meet up with the Fremantle Bypass.”

Public pressure has pushed stage eight of the Roe Highway and the Fremantle Bypass off the agenda, according to Mr Croxon.

“As an industry we don’t have a problem with that; we do see the need for the multi-modal movement of freight out of the Fremantle port, he said.

“But it’s equally important to have an efficient road network out of the port.

“Rail freight going from 3 per cent to 30 per cent, in my personal view is optimistic.

“If they achieve it, then well done, but by achieving that it’s just going to take up the growth [in the freight industry].”

There are also issues relating to road freight and separation processes that would allow for trucks to move more easily through built-up areas.

“There are some issues relating to dedicated lanes but we also need a process where heavy vehicles can overtake each other,” Mr Croxon said.

Designated routes are a bigger concern to the freight industry than the introduction of dedicated lanes on existing routes.

“The big issue is really designated routes, those are routes where everybody knows they are heavy truck routes,” Mr Croxon said.

“On the Tonkin Highway you don’t have a whole lot of entry and access points so you don’t have people stopping at traffic lights at each junction.

“Instead they are taken off [the highway] by off ramps.

“With the Leach Highway we’ve got businesses right on the highway.”

Another important issue worth considering is the fact that building materials comprises most of the freight moving around the city.

This highlights the important planning issues that need to be taken into consideration ahead of new urban development or urban infill proposals.

Major development projects attract an influx of heavy trucks and all the associated issues.

“The reality is that only 5 or 6 per cent of the freight on the roads in Fremantle comes out of the port,” Mr Croxon said.

“Freight is not just containers.”

Major infrastructure investment such as the new Perth to Mandurah rail line also fit in to the freight jigsaw puzzle.

“We hope that the outcome of the new Mandurah line might be to reduce the number of cars on the road so heavy vehicles can move more easily,” Mr Croxon said.

Serpentine Transport managing director Graham Brickwood said people would be very shocked to learn the volume of freight carried around the city.

“There’s a great concentration that’s turning Kewdale into an inland port, but that’s just turning one hot spot into another, he said.

“Kewdale is already built up and reasonably busy; there would have to be some major road works carried out if it was to handle any growth.

“As far as the decision to get 30 per cent of freight onto rail, you won’t get any argument from anyone on that.

“I think it will just handle some of the growth in freight.

Mr Brickwood said that, by the time the infrastructure was built, there would be pent-up demand for extra capacity in the industry.

He identified careful planning as central to the future expansion and smooth operation of the industry.

“We need to stop people building their homes near major roads,” Mr Brickwood said

“In various ways people like to live in places along major highways – people like to get out of nice quiet streets and get onto major roads.

“It’s also a problem because of a lack of public transport.

“There’s probably got to be a clause written into planning that says if a new road is put in you can’t have anyone living within 150 metres.

“The biggest issue that people need to understand is that the road is our workplace.”

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