VicRoads assesses the potential air quality impacts for all significant road projects and manages plant and equipment to minimise dust during construction.
Emissions from motor vehicle operations on major roads can lead to higher concentrations of certain air pollutants, in comparison with overall urban background levels.
New road projects or major changes to existing roads have the potential to cause adverse air quality impacts. This can be as a result of increased traffic volumes and/or changes to road alignments which result in decreased distances between vehicles and residential dwellings or other sensitive uses.
Each road project is required to assess the influence of traffic generated emissions on the near-road environment, taking into account meteorology and traffic type, volume and speed. An assessment of the predicted air quality is undertaken using the principles and clauses stipulated in the State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management) (SEPP (AQM)).
Adverse air quality impacts are not anticipated where the road project involves low traffic volumes and/or large distances between the road and the nearest sensitive receptor.
Air quality screening tool
VicRoads, in consultation with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), has developed the “VicRoads Air Quality Screening Tool” (AQST) and guidelines for its use. This enables Planners and Project Engineers to assess compliance against the SEPP (AQM) criteria using a worst case approach.
Results from the AQST are used to determine whether the air quality component of the project is satisfied, or alternatively whether a detailed air quality impact assessment is warranted.
During construction, plant and equipment must be managed to ensure that dusts generated will not:
- create a hazard or nuisance to the public
- disperse from the site or across roadways
- interfere with crops, stock or dust-sensitive receptors.
Compliance with limits set by EPA is verified by dust monitoring. Proactive management of project sites is undertaken using various dust suppression techniques, including the need to limit operations where wind conditions might create adverse health issues or safety concerns.