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Supertruck Proposal Must Be Rejected

Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today urged Transport Minister Mark Gosche to reject a proposal to increase the maximum length of trucks by five metres and the weight by nearly 50 per cent to 62 tonnes and instead make a commitment to having freight moved by rail.

Ms Fitzsimons said the proposal, which is reported to be outlined in a Land Transport Authority document next week, would ruin New Zealand's public roads and place motorists at even more risk.

"I'm very concerned that this proposal - rejected a number of times in the past - has surfaced yet again," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"At a time when a forestry boom is just around the corner and there is building pressure on the Government to invest in rail to keep the increasing numbers of heavy trucks off our roads, any move to make these trucks even bigger is a big step backwards.

"The Green Party urge Mr Gosche to turn down this hairbrained proposal and to instead address the real transport and freight issues such as the lack of Government control over New Zealand's rail infrastructure."

In 1999 trucks were involved in almost 20 per cent of all road fatalities and Ms Fitzsimons said this figure would surely increase unless the projected explosion in logs coming out of areas like Northland and Gisborne were shifted by rail.

"In a few years, trips by logging trucks between Napier - Gisborne will increase from 20 to 350 trips per day and yet this is one section of rail line that is under threat of closure and one section of road that cannot sustain this traffic - let alone by much heavier and larger trucks," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons said there were many country roads such as in the Coromandel where logging trucks could not get around the corners now without crossing the centre line. This proposal would make road safety much, much worse.

Doubling the weight of trucks far more than doubles the damage to the road and if this proposal were to go ahead all New Zealand roads would have to be over-engineered just for one type of vehicle, she said.

"We already have routes which are engineered for this type of weight. They are called railways and we should use them," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"This Government has got to sort out where it is going with transport in New Zealand. At the moment we are getting very confused messages when what is needed more than ever is a clear and coherent direction."


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