Roads ‘unsuitable’ for soil trucks

Bulla Bridge. (Steve Bock)

By Oliver Lees

Increased congestion from the West Gate Tunnel soil relocation project will cause “mayhem” on Sunbury’s roads, according to Hume councillors.

Sunbury’s toxic soil saga reached a tipping point last month as Transurban and builder CPB-John Holland signed a contract to commence building the facility required to receive and treat the soil at the Hi-Quality site on Sunbury Road.

According to a report presented to a Hume council meeting on September 7, 2020, trucks will transport soil to Hi-Quality’s site 24-hours a day, seven days a week for 18 to 24 months.

Speaking at a council meeting last week, councillor Jack Medcraft said there are “serious issues” that need to be addressed before the project begins.

“It’s going to be mayhem,” Cr Medcraft said.

“The thought of using B-double trucks over the Bulla-Diggers Rest Road absolutely frightens me.”

Cr Medcraft’s comments were in response to a letter to the council from Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, dated May 24.

In the letter, Ms Allan said the state government was still deciding on the route that would be used to transport the toxic soil.

“I’m advised that a route to Hi-Quality via Vineyard Road is not being proposed,” Ms Allan said.

“Other routes to access Hi-Quality, including via the Tullamarine Freeway and Sunbury Road, and via the Calder Freeway and Bulla-Diggers Rest Road, are being considered.

“As part of this consideration, assessments are also being carried out on the Deep Creek [Bulla] Bridge at Bulla and the Jacksons Creek Bridge on Bulla-Diggers Rest Road, for their ability to adequately cater for the predicted traffic loads.”

Cr Jodi Jackson said the use of Bulla-Diggers Rest Road is “absolutely not acceptable”.

“This is a road that is funded, maintained and will be upgraded in a time in the future by our ratepayers,” Cr Jackson said.

“I don’t think it is in the best interest of our ratepayers, to be footing the bill for maintenance works along this road.

“We need to do whatever investigation we can to make sure that that road is only used by local traffic and agricultural vehicles.”

Mayor Joseph Haweil said council will meet with Ms Allan to voice the concerns of the community.

“I drove over the Bulla-Diggers Rest Road yesterday, as I have done many times before, and it is beggars belief that you could send hundreds of trucks over that road,” Cr Haweil said.

Star Weekly reported in May that civil engineer Steve Bock had inspected the heritage-listed Bulla Bridge and had raised concerns that it was incompatible for modern traffic demands.

Hi-Quality has since commissioned an independent structural inspection of the Bulla Bridge to ensure its suitability.

This review found that the bridge is in good condition and able to handle the anticipated truck movements.