Ballina Shire Council has called on the state and federal governments to impose a surcharge on heavy vehicles using the Pacific Highway in a bid to encourage truck company operators to use the New England Highway instead.
Mayor Phil Silver said the simple idea to entice heavy vehicles to return to the New England Highway, where traffic volumes are smaller, would save lives on the Pacific Highway.
Cr Silver, who wrote to both state and federal road ministers this week, said a surcharge on a load-per-axle basis could be applied in tandem with a diesel-fuel excise rebate for those heavy vehicles using the New England Highway.
This should not be seen as a revenue-raising proposition... I would compare the idea to the taxes on cigarettes, which are in place as a policy to reduce the social and health issues associated with smoking by the additional price reducing the demand for the product, he said. The intention is not to force all heavy transport onto one particular highway but rather use a surcharge and a rebate to more evenly spread the heavy vehicle freight load across the two road assets.
The proposal, Cr Silver said, would not only save lives but enhance the quality of life for local residents living adjacent to the Pacific Highway and the thousands of people who use it regularly to commute around the region.
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