Trucks will make fewer trips but carry more freight, so goods arrive on supermarket shelves faster.
A new permit allows specialised Higher Productivity Vehicles - truck-and-trailer combinations designed for high volume transit - to carry an extra 22 per cent of supermarket supplies on every trip. The maximum weight has increased from 68.5 tonnes to 79 tonnes.
"This means one less trip out of every six, reducing the number of trucks on the road and supplies reaching supermarkets faster," Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said. "We know how important it is to keep freight flowing and the supermarket shelves stocked during COVID-19."
In our region, Transport for NSW may make the Hume Highway a permanent B-triple route. They recently granted permits to Linfox and GTS Freight for 35--metre HPVs to transport goods from the Coles and Woolworths distribution centres in Sydney, to Goulburn to meet extra demand during the coronavirus period.
Trucks will also travel directly between Melbourne and the Woolworths Distribution Centre in western Sydney, via the Sheahan Bridge near Gundagai.
"It's no secret food and grocery supply has been stretched in recent times," Ben Newton, head of Transport Development at Woolworths, said.
The permit allowed supermarkets to stock shelves more quickly, Mr Newton said.
"Having the flexibility to run higher volume trucks up the Hume has been a big help in our efforts to keep stock on the shelves for our NSW communities," Mr Newton continued. "This is a great example of government and industry working together to safely improve the road network and supply chain efficiency."
Some locals, however, fear that these large, heavy trucks could pose a danger to other drivers.
"We don't need these massive over-sized juggernauts on our two-lane highway," Goulburn resident Barry McDonald told the Goulburn Post last week. "They are going to be a nuisance to all other motorists - let alone a safety hazard. Current B-doubles are more than sufficient."
Transport fleet owner Ron Finemore reassured the public that his 30-metre Higher Productivity Vehicles were safe.
"Just like the latest cars on the road, our trucks have state-of-the art technology," Mr Finemore said.
Advanced telematics fitted to the vehicles, Mr Finemore explained, ensure they stay 60 metres from other trucks and comply with a 90 km/h speed limit. The technology also monitors the vehicle's load and movements, which can be tracked remotely.