Truckies could foot the bill for NSW Pacific Highway upgrade

Sunday, January 8, 2006

A section of the Pacific Highway South of Buladelah
(Image missing locally: image; log)

Just two weeks after a join statement by Australian federal roads minister Jim Lloyd and his New South Wales counterpart Joe Tripoldi that tolls may be used to fast track upgrades of the Pacific Highway, acting Prime Minister Mark Vaile suggested that truck operators could pay up to a $70 toll.

Mr Vaile claims that industry sources claim that it is $400 less for a B-double semi trailer to drive from Sydney to Brisbane via the Pacific Highway than the New England Highway (which is the national highway) because of the upgrades carried out over the past 10 years.

Mr Valie claims the transport industry would accept a $70 toll. "Anything we do is going to enhance their efficiency". "Therefore the transport industry would be prepared to pay a toll - not just a $5 or $7 or $10 toll. For Sydney to Brisbane, who knows, (they could pay) a $50 to $70 toll, because these efficiencies are so significant now in running that sector."

The federal and state governments have committed to converting the highway to dual carriageway between Sydney and Port Macquarie and Brisbane and Byron Bay within three years. The remainder of the highway (with the exception of the section replaced by the Sydney - Newcastle Freeway was scheduled to be completed by 2016.

Mr Vaile said that the New South Wales government should look at using public-private partnerships to fund upgrades between Port Macquarie and Byron Bay. He further hinted that regular motorists would still pay tolls, although they would be variable depending on the length of highway used.

Kathy and Greg Campbell who lost Greg's mother and their daughters Becky, 9, and Jessy, 8, when a truck slammed into their car head on south of Buladelah said the number of trucks which use the single carriageway section is an outrage. Ms Campbell said that the federal government received AU$14 billion a year in fuel excise from motorists and the estimated cost to complete the highway upgrade was AU$8 billion.

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