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Truck operators call for Bolte Bridge detour during tunnel work

bolte bridge

Bolte Bridge in Melbourne must be opened up to higher productivity trucks during the next phases of the West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) to avoid dangerous detours, says Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA).

Already A-double and Super B-doubles are being funnelled through the busy Docklands precinct along Bourke Street and Harbour Esplanade overnight as tunnel construction shuts Wurundjeri Way on certain days throughout April and May.

Operators fear that his detour will be used more extensively later this year as tunnel work ramps up, and CTAA director Neil Chambers is calling on the Victorian government and toll-road operator Transurban to find a safer solution.

“To date, the heavy vehicle access disruptions to and from the Port of Melbourne have had a negative impact on landside container logistics efficiency and productivity, but they have been manageable because they have been temporary,” said Chambers.

“However, container transport operators have significant concerns about longer-term road closures earmarked in the forward WGTP construction timetable and their associated heavy vehicle detours.”

The most significant of these is the complete closure of Wurundjeri Way in Docklands in the third quarter of this year for an extended period.

“Wurundjeri Way is the major permitted route for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs) around 30 metres in length carrying up to four Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) and operating at gross vehicle mass (GVM) weights above 68.5 tonnes (up to 109 tonnes GVM),” added Chambers.

“There are dozens of HPFV movements day and night accessing Webb Dock from the Swanson Dock precinct of the port, and from the west.

“These vehicles cannot use the West Gate Bridge above 68.5t GVM due to bridge weight restrictions.”

Chambers said the only alternative is to open up a “safe route” via the Bolte Bridge.

He said that WGTP and the state government had indicated they would consider the bridge as an alternative detour later this year, but first Transurban must approve a temporary increase in the bridge’s vehicle weight limit.

A WGTP spokesperson said the project was working to identify alternative detours to use while Wurundjeri Way is closed for longer periods later in the year, but they were still in the “planning phase”.

“We’ll continue to work closely with [the freight industry] and our project partners to make sure all road users can travel efficiently and safely.”

As part of the $10 billion toll road linking the West Gate Freeway at Yarraville with CityLink at Docklands, Wurundjeri Way is being widened with an extra lane in each direction and extended to Dynon Road.

Already $3.8 billion over budget and three years behind schedule, the project consists of two 7km tunnels under Yarraville, a new bridge over the Maribyrnong River and 15km of elevated lanes on Footscray Road.

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