Maribyrnong council is under fire for blaming too much paperwork in justifying rule changes that have opened the floodgates to an influx of B-double trucks.
Parents at Kingsville Primary School and nearby residents say that since blanket approval for B-double trucks to use Somerville Road has been granted, it has become inundated with trucks measuring up to 26 metres long, including during school drop-off and pick-up times, which are subject to a curfew.
Kingsville Primary School council president Glen Yates said parents had been left scratching their heads as to why the council would make it easier for B-doubles to use a route from which it had earlier pushed to have trucks entirely banned.
“You look at the size of those things when they are thundering through – they are significantly larger than what we are used to,” he said.
While Somerville Road has long been a route for “over dimensional vehicles” that cannot fit on other truck routes in the area, operators had to obtain a permit from the council each time they wanted to use the road.
Maribyrnong Truck Action Group president Samantha McArthur said the council had previously argued strongly for trucks to be banned from Somerville Road due to the number of schools in close vicinity.
“Now, inexplicably, the council has done a massive backflip,” she said. “These huge trucks do not need to be there and the fact that they are now running rampant … demonstrates exactly why we need a permit system in place.”
VicRoads heavy vehicle services director Eric Henderson said Maribyrnong council had last year asked for all B-double trucks to be allowed to travel on Somerville Road at all times other than during curfews.
Maribyrnong council chief executive Stephen Wall said the request was made “to reduce the administrative burden on council” due to the number of requests being made.
He said heavy vehicles were required to comply with restrictions on the road such as curfews, load limits and vehicle dimensions.
“The pre-approved B-double route along Somerville Road will be reviewed in June following its expiration,” he said.
“The review of the pre-approved route will take into account the substantial developments that are taking place in the municipality, such as the West Gate Tunnel project and City West Water project.”
Mr Wall said assessing whether there is an increased use of Somerville Road, and the flow-on environmental impact, is a separate matter that would require input from VicRoads, EPA and Council.
“Any future changes to the use of Somerville Road would need input from VicRoads, Victorian Transport Association and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.”
It is believed councillors were unaware of the request to abolish the permit system.