Allowing Coles to run B-triple trucks on the Hume Highway to its Goulburn distribution centre will open the doors for other operators, says a local man.
Barry McDonald said he was taken aback by a recent council announcement that the supermarket chain would soon be running two B-triples each weekday into its facility, off Ducks Lane.
The vehicles will travel from Coles' Smeaton Grange distribution centre in outer Sydney, up the Hume Highway. They will then turn at the South Goulburn interchange on to Hume Street, before travelling a short distance along Ducks Lane and in to Lillkar Road to the DC.
A council spokesman said the go-ahead followed a recent "successful trial" and would apply only during the COVID-19 period.
But Mr McDonald, who formerly worked as business development manager with State and Regional Development in Goulburn, said there was no need for the vehicles.
"I'm surprised and disappointed that government authorities have caved in to approving B-triple trucks to travel the Hume Highway from Sydney to Goulburn," he said.
"We don't need these massive over-sized juggernauts on our two- lane highway. They are going to be a nuisance to all other motorists - let alone a safety hazard. Current B-doubles are more than sufficient."
Mr McDonald said the announcement was sudden. Neither Transport for NSW nor government ministers had distributed any information.
He told The Post that the road transport industry had lobbied for the vehicles over many years but the government "had so far resisted."
In 2013, the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan flagged a B-triple trial on the Hume Highway the following year. Little has happened since. The vehicles more commonly run on approved routes in western NSW.
Mr McDonald says the three-carriage vehicles, usually 35 metres long, would pose dangers, and the Hume was busiest around Goulburn.
"I regularly travel the highway, often encountering one B-double trying to overtake another one and taking several minutes to complete the task, especially if there is a hill involved. What's it going to be like when one B-triple tries to overtake another B-triple?" he asked.
He questioned the relevance of only allowing them during the COVID-19 period and said anyone who believed they would finish when the pandemic was over was "living in fantasy land."
"They are here to stay. So far the Covid-19 period is infinity," Mr McDonald said.
He argued that with Coles' announcement that it would close its Goulburn DC in favour of a larger, automated one elsewhere in NSW, the vehicles would become an integral part of the chain's transport network.
"Let's hear Coles deny it," he said.
He believed other road transport operators would lobby government to operate B-triples on the Hume and elsewhere and "Goulburn was just the start."
B-triple routes 'under investigation'
Coles declined to answer a series of questions and referred The Post to its transport operator, Linfox. That company also declined comment.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the Hume Highway between the Sturt Highway and the M7 had been approved for modular B-triple access under a temporary permit.
"This permit has been provided to enable more supermarket freight to move during the Covid-19 pandemic," she said in a statement.
"In consultation with Transport for NSW and Goulburn Mulwaree Council, Coles has applied for a permit to more efficiently move supplies between their Eastern Creek and Goulburn distribution centres after a successful trial of a 35-metre modular B-triple."
She said the vehicles were fitted with advanced safety technologies and satellite tracking, ensuring they only used approved roads and minimised interaction with other road users in Goulburn.
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"Goulburn Mulwaree Council has requested Coles' trips be limited to two return movements per day from midday on to avoid the morning peak," she said.
The Department did not specifically answer whether the Hume Highway was being considered as a permanent B-triple route.
"Transport NSW is currently investigating options to allow modular B-triples to move freight on other routes in NSW," the spokesperson said.
The Post has also asked for details on operating rules.
Mr McDonald said the only "saving grace" was that Linfox drivers tended to obey speed limits and display courtesy to other road users.
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