Traffic safety along the Pacific Highway in the northern rivers will be improved by a new heavy vehicle rest area at Chinderah, announced by the Federal and State governments this week.
Tweed Shire Council has welcomed the announcement of a new $7.26 million heavy vehicle rest area on the Pacific Highway at Chinderah, aimed at preventing driver fatigue.
The joint NSW and federally funded project, exclusively for trucks, will include a parking area for 25 B-double trucks, including access and egress ramps, a roundabout and bypass lane on Tweed Valley Way.
The federal government will contribute 50 per cent of the total project cost, as part of its Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, while the state government will meet the remaining 50 per cent.
Council general manager Troy Green said ‘a specifically designed, high quality area exclusively for long-haul trucks will greatly assist their drivers to take their required rest breaks, improving road safety for them and other road users’.
‘This facility will have terrific potential to attract transport industries and other associated support businesses, promoting the concept of a transport hub as identified in the Economic Development Strategy,’ Mr Green said.
‘The Tweed Economic Development Strategy, adopted by council last year, identified that road transport industry provided infrastructure that was essential to develop the Tweed economy.
‘Road transport businesses in the Tweed employed 695 people and generated $129 million worth of sales in 2012-13.
‘In 2014, council convened a meeting between transport industry representatives in the Tweed and delegates from the Department of Trade and Investment, TAFE NSW and council’s engineering division.’
Mr Green said this meeting gave a clear message from the industry that there needed to be more truck rest areas along the Pacific Highway.
‘For these rest areas to be effective they need to be exclusively for trucks, as many existing rest areas become congested with caravans and other recreation vehicles,’ he said.
Mr Green said that council took those industry concerns to the federal government, asking for funding to be considered for truck rest areas strategically located along the Pacific Highway, irrespective of whether they would be located within the Tweed.
Director of Murwillumbah-based transport company Shoobridge Transport, Peter Shoobridge, said there was a big need for more heavy vehicle rest stops right along the eastern seaboard and he was a strong advocate of the new Chinderah facility.
‘We have prescribed rest breaks that need to be taken and we need more dedicated areas specifically for trucks so we can meet those guidelines and control driver fatigue,’ Mr Shoobridge said.
‘We would utilise the Chinderah facility for changeovers for trucks passing through the area – rather than doing the 40km round trip into Murwillumbah and back – which would also address driver fatigue and improve the efficiency of our operations,’ he said.