Goulburn Valley Highway reopens

Victorian roads minister Tim Pallas has announced the Arcadia section of the Goulburn Valley Highway is complete and open to traffic.

The Arcadia section, a $40.5 million project fully funded by the Federal Government, offers an additional 11 km dual carriageway and rest area.

Federal infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese said the newly-opened section of the highway would enhance traffic flow and cut travel time along the transport link between the Goulburn Valley, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Mr Albanese said: “The Highway carries 6,500 vehicles per day, including more than 2,000 commercial vehicles. It forms part of the National Highway route between Melbourne and Brisbane and is recognised as the main freight route serving Melbourne, Shepparton and Brisbane.

“Upgrading the safety and efficiency of the Goulburn Valley Highway will reduce the cost of interstate freight movements between Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.”

Mr Pallas said the establishment of the high-standard road network would play a pivotal role in realising the value of the region’s fruit exports, benefiting both commercial traffic and the local community.

The project was delivered by VicRoads and contractor Cut and Fill. The total government funding for the Goulburn Valley Highway project is $216 million.

Victorian pilotage arrangements revised

The Port of Melbourne.

Image courtesy of the Port of Melbourne.

Victorian Ports Minister Tim Pallas has released the final report of a review of pilotage arrangements, along with a list of recommendations for commercial shipping safety.

The Review into Pilotage Arrangements in Victoria, which was announced last year, aims to appraise the effectiveness of the state’s statutory framework, pilot licensing, training arrangements and safety standards.

Mr Pallas said pilotage safety has become a paramount issue with the size of commercial ships getting bigger.

“Of the 82 commercial vessels involved in collisions and groundings in 2006-07, 30 per cent involved vessels greater than 150 metres in length. Of the 14 investigations undertaken by Marine Safety Victoria in this period, 11 involved ships under pilotage,” he said.

He said the review identified a need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to safety.

“The safety of pilotage depends not only on the skill and safe practice of an individual marine pilot, but also effective operation of the entire marine safety system.

“Pilotage therefore needs to be considered in the context of the statutory framework governing pilotage waters and the practice of all parties responsible for marine safety and vessel operations,” Mr Pallas said.

In Victoria, the responsibility of regulating safety in commercial trading ports and shipping channels is shared by Marine Safety Victoria, port managers, channel operators, harbour masters and waterway managers. All vessel operators have safety obligations within this regulatory framework.

The key recommendations of the report include a tougher accreditation regime to evaluate operators’ capacity to meet risk management standards, strengthened chain of responsibility provisions with clearly defined roles for both safety regulators and industry participants, as well as the independence of the director of Marine Safety from Government and industry.

Based on the recommendations, the current Marine Act and Regulations will be amended within 12 months.

For more information on the Review into Pilotage Arrangements in Victoria visit the Marine Safety Victoria website, www.marinesafety.vic.gov.au.

Melbourne’s Dynon port rail link moves forward

Beams being lifted into place for the last bridge span across Appleton Dock Road
 
With the first stage of the Dynon port rail link project completed, the outbound lanes of the new Footscary Road overpass will open to traffic this weekend.
 
Victorian roads and ports minister Tim Pallas announced the level crossing on Appleton Dock Road will be removed when the newly constructed overpass is opened to traffic.
 
The project is to separate road and rail access to the Port of Melbourne, reducing congestion on Footscary Road and enhancing safety at a major road and rail bottleneck.
 
“Currently the Port’s only rail access is via a single dual-gauge track crossing Footscray Road. This project will see the existing rail line relocated and replaced with two new dual gauge rail lines into the Port of Melbourne from the Dynon terminal precinct,” Mr Pallas said.

“The extra rail capacity and traffic overpass will increase the amount of freight that can be carried directly to the port, helping to secure Melbourne’s position as the largest and most efficient container port in Australia.”

Mr Pallas said with the Channel Deepening Project progressing well, it was essential that the appropriate landside infrastructure was in place to support freight movement.

“Work will now commence on stage two of the Dynon port rail link project, which will involve construction of the new city-bound bridge on Footscray Road,” he said.

The city-bound bridge is expected to be opened to traffic in early 2009.

 

Victoria to monitor heavy vehicles on the road

Heavy vehicles operating in Victoria will soon be subject to monitoring with new access conditions. 

Victorian Roads Minister Tim Pallas has announced the introduction of the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) to monitor the movements of heavy cranes and concrete pump trucks.

Mr Pallas said the new technology would allow the Victorian construction industry to achieve significant productivity gains.

“This technology will help ensure heavy mobile cranes and pump trucks are using the approved routes on the road network.

“The technology will allow us to provide increased access to vehicles on the approved routes and to identify when these vehicles are off the approved routes,” he said.

The IAP is a voluntary program which provides heavy vehicles with access to the Australian road network in return for monitoring of compliance with specific access conditions.

Under the program, heavy vehicles will be tracked using global positioning system (GPS) units provided by service providers who are certified by the Transport Certification Australia.

Mr Pallas said currently heavy crane operators have to find their own GPS units.

“With this new initiative, Intelligent Access Program service providers will take over the job of fitting GPS units and tracking vehicles,” he said.

The program is expected to deliver improve road safety, protection of road infrastructure, increased transport industry efficiency and productivity, as well as reduced administrative burden for heavy vehicle operators.

  

VicRoads has started a six-month transition program this month to help operators in the state adapt to the new system when it is compatible with their businesses, with a series of information sessions to be held across Victoria.

 

Queensland is also planning to make the program a requirement for higher mass limit access in the state from 1 July 2009. NSW also enacted full IAP legislation.

Dredging completed amid economic meltdown

Aerial view of Port Phillip Bay.

Aerial veiw of Port Phillip Bay.

The Port of Melbourne’s $1 billion channel deepening project has marked a milestone by completing dredging at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, but the port’s self-claimed success has faced questions.

The port’s CEO Stephen Bradford said the dredging operations had been completed on time and budget, meeting all environmental requirements.

He said that the channel deepening project was progressing smoothly, with 40 per cent complete after 238 days.

“To carry out this work at the entrance on schedule and within budget is a significant achievement when you consider that prior to this project it was not known technically whether the dredging could actually be done,” Mr Bradford said.

Victorian Ports Minister Tim Pallas said the $1 billion project would bring significant economic and social benefits to the state, with port activities currently supporting almost 14,000 jobs. 

“Channel deepening is expected to generate $2 billion to the national economy over the next 30 years, and create more than 2,000 jobs,” Mr Pallas said.

He said the completion of the project by the end of next year would enable larger vessels to dock in Melbourne, lifting the port’s container freight throughput almost four-fold.

However, the economic prospect of the project is being questioned as Victorian exports have declined by 10.5 per cent since 2001, suggesting the biggest beneficiary of the project would be importers, not exporters.

Mr Pallas rebutted, saying container shipping was growing by almost 8 per cent each year.

“Even if the economic environment were to dampen we will not see anything other than the continuing growth and movement towards containerisation,” he told AAP.

“That growth will continue, there is absolutely no doubt about that, and our projections show we have got something like 2.2 million TEU actually moving through the Port of Melbourne at the moment. Projections are in the next 30 years that we’ll see something like eight million TEU.”

Mr Bradford said dredging was the most technologically challenging and ecologically sensitive aspect of the project, involving the removal of hardened material from the top of rocky banks.

“It is the first time in the port’s history that the entrance has been deepened without the use of explosives, a practice ceased in 1986.

“We have conducted underwater video surveillance at the entrance and further monitoring activities are scheduled. In fact, surveying at the entrance is scheduled to be ongoing for 10 years.”

He said the port would now start cleaning up residual materials at the entrance to meet the requirements of the project’s environment management plan.

Women in Freight Scholarship: apply now

Applications are now open for the Victorian Government’s annual $10,000 Women in Freight, Logistics and Marine Management scholarship.

Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas said the scholarship was designed to encourage more women to take up leadership and management positions in the freight, marine and logistics industries.

“Reports estimate that women currently represent only 27 per cent of the transport and logistics workforce and there are even fewer in management positions.

“Attracting and retaining more women is now recognised as a priority because of the balance and diversity it brings to the workplace,” Mr Pallas said.

Any postgraduate student commencing or completing her studies in a field relating to the freight, logistics and marine industries is eligible to apply.

Key criteria of the award would be relevant work experience, academic merit and commitment to a career in the industry.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for young women to gain experience and insights into the freight, logistics and marine sector,” Mr Pallas said.

“The winning recipient will receive funding to assist with further education and will also have the opportunity to undertake work at the Department of Infrastructure.”

The 2008 scholarship was awarded to Tessa Mahon, who is studying a Masters course in Marketing with a focus on supply chain logistics. She completed a year in the logistics division at GM Holden and had a graduate trainee role at the security product manufacturing plant of Assa Abloy in Oakleigh.

“We believe it is important to promote the recruitment of women into the freight, logistics and marine sector and assist them in reaching their potential,” Mr Pallas said.

Applications close on 31 October 2008.

For further information on the scholarship, visit: www.transport.vic.gov.au/freight

B-triples to eat Victoria

A Toll IPEC B-triple truck.

A B-triple truck.

The Victorian Government has planned to build seven B-triple routes across the state, according to a leaked Department of Transport document.

The State Opposition argued the State Government intended to include the heavy vehicle network in its transport strategy due in November, without any consultation with communities or relevant organisations.

“In December 2007, Planning Minister Tim Pallas promised full consultation with local communities and councils about B-triples,” opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said.

“John Brumby should tell Minister Pallas to pick up the phone and start making calls instead of treating local communities and councils like mushrooms.”

The opposition argued the massive introduction of B-triple trucks can pose a danger, especially in suburban streets, as the prime mover towing three trailers can weigh up to 82 tonnes with a length of up to 36 metres. 

In reaction to the leak, Victorian Premier John Brumby said while the State Government was conducting extensive consultation on how best to cope with soaring freight demand, no final decision has been made on B-triple trucks.

“The challenge that we’ve got is the freight task in Victoria is going to more than double by 2030, so there is going to be a lot of more goods being moved and we’ve got to look at the most efficient way of moving them,” Mr Brumby said.

“The only thing that we’d be looking at with B-triples would be to reduce the total number of truck movements and, particularly, the number of trucks that use local roads… If it means that we’d have fewer trucks on the road, that would be a good thing.”

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