As a travelling salesman, John Watson has spent many years making the journey from Sydney to Albury. He has noticed that there is one significant absence on the Riverina’s major roads.
“I’ve lived in Wagga for 30 years now, and this has become something of a pet subject for me. Wagga doesn’t have a decent truck stop, and it should,” Mr Watson said.
While driving along Edward Street towards Sturt Highway, he happened upon what he thought to be the perfect location for a truck stop.
“Near the roundabout there’s a crown block of land where a lot of trucks are already parking all up and down and sideways,” he said.
“Nowadays everything comes in by trucks, but that grounds sitting there from the days when transport was done by animals.”
It seemed like a simple solution when Mr Watson floated the idea with councillor Kerry Pascoe. But due to rezoning issues, Cr Pascoe says that block of land has been a thorn in council’s side for more than a decade.
“I’ve asked on a number of occasions to look at rezoning that site but it’s never really happened, because council tend to look at that area as the bottom end of town where flooding is common. But all the issues they’ve raised can be resolved.”
About eight years ago, council gave it a major overhaul so for trucks to park.
“There should be a 24 hour major development there, with a fuel station, showers and retail services for the passing traffic.”
Ben Maguire, CEO of the Australian Trucking Association said he was surprised to learn Wagga, major city on the trade route, did not have a truck stop facility.
“Fatigue is a major issue on our roads. If we don’t provide somewhere for [truck drivers] to sleep, shower, and just generally rest, we can’t hold them responsible for their fatigue.”
Long distance drivers are required to stop and rest for at least 30 minutes every five-and-a-half hours.
“It’s unreasonable to think 10 per cent of our nation’s trade is being transported this way, and we don’t even provide a place for them to go to the toilet. It’s pretty much mandatory to supply a bathroom in a workplace. For these drivers, this is their workplace, and this is no different,” he said.