Can our roads cope?

Chas Becket, Paynesville


THE Kalbar conundrum: what happens when the mineral sands hit the road via 40 trips in loaded-72 tonne B-double trucks per day?

There are three issues: the incidence of crashes, the risk of toxic contamination, and the damage to infrastructure.

The Australian government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development paper titled Heavy Truck Safety: crash analysis and trends notes heavy trucks are disproportionately involved in casualty crashes: approximately 16 per cent of road crash fatalities and four per cent of injuries involve these vehicles.

In general, involvement of a heavy truck is associated with more severe injury outcomes.

Rates of annual fatal crashes per kilometre travelled or per registered vehicle are higher for heavy truck-involved crashes than for passenger car-involved crashes.

Available Australian evidence suggests in about 80 per cent of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes involving heavy trucks, fault is not assigned to the heavy truck.

The environmental effect statement will not work here.

There will be 80 in number 72 tonne B-double trucks (40 loaded) transporting hazardous materials (toxic soils) day and night on our rural roads over a period of 20 years.

The convoluted route is intended to be from the mine site to Port Anthony adjacent to Port Welshpool. All roads maintained by the East and South Gippsland and Wellington shires.

Phillip Laird, honorary fellow of the University of Wollongong, prepared a paper titled Trucks are Destroying Our Roads and Not Picking Up the Repair Cost.

I quote an excerpt: “A B-double (truck) can cause, per kilometre travelled, 20,000 times the road wear and tear that a family car does. That could be 60,000 to 80,000 family cars per hour? Can the commercial and residential areas of the three above shires sustain this intrusion?”