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Australia Trucks to be fined almost $200 for evading new Sydney tollway

19:11  11 february  2020
19:11  11 february  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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a person that is on fire: Construction of the new NorthConnex tunnel in 2017.© Brook Mitchell Construction of the new NorthConnex tunnel in 2017.

Trucks and other heavy vehicles will be fined almost $200 for attempting to avoid Sydney's new NorthConnex toll road, which is set to open mid-year.

The $3 billion roadway will be the first in NSW to impose a fine on truck drivers if they use a free alternative such as Pennant Hills Road.

But Scott Charlton, the chief executive of Transurban, the toll road giant tasked with delivering and operating the nine kilometre roadway, said the fee for trucks made economic sense given how much time they would save.

“Under any economic value for a heavy vehicle, if you’re not doing deliveries in the area, then using the toll road is so much more economic,” Mr Charlton said, adding the new motorway bypassed 21 traffic lights and two school zones.

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Mr Charlton said it was up to the state government to set the fine for trucks that evaded the toll.

Gantries on either side of Pennant Hills Road in Sydney's north-west will record heavy vehicles evading the NorthConnex and fine them $191. It’s expected the toll for trucks will be similar to the M2, with trucks paying more than $23 and cars about $7.85.

a highway filled with lots of traffic: Trucks will be fined for avoiding the new NorthConnex tollway.© Dominic Lorrimer Trucks will be fined for avoiding the new NorthConnex tollway.

Transurban recorded a statutory half-year profit of $189 million on Tuesday, with a 10.8 per cent jump in toll revenue in Sydney.

However, Mr Charlton said a softening economic environment had slowed traffic growth on many of its highways. A dip in “housing activity” in Sydney’s west has also impacted on heavy vehicle tolling.

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“We don’t believe, particularly in the long term, that it will have any impact on the benefits that are drawn from WestConnex,” Mr Charlton said, adding that the M4 had seen stronger traffic than was originally forecast.

“We’re investing for over 40, 50 year periods. There’s always volatility around the economy but the long term demographics, economic strength, what the government is doing, the infrastructure spend, is all very, very positive for long term economic growth.”

Overall, car traffic increased by 2.8 per cent in Sydney, while heavy vehicles fell away by 3.7 per cent.

While continuing to build and run the majority of the state’s toll roads, Transurban is also circling the new Western Harbour Tunnel, which remains in the approval stage after the recent release of the environmental impact statement.

Mr Charlton said Transurban was awaiting the government tender process and indicated his company was interested in bidding for the second harbour tunnel.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said truck drivers would not lose any demerit points if cameras caught them avoiding the new tollway.

The spokesman said the toll would make the area safer for motorists, by taking large trucks off local roads.

“One of the key reasons for building NorthConnex was to deliver faster, safer, more reliable and efficient journeys for road users,” the spokesman said.

NorthConnex was originally slated for completion late last year, but is forecast to open in mid-2020, along with the new M5.

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