River tunnel gets minister’s ear

EXTENDING a tunnel under Fremantle and through to Mosman Park could solve a host of problems and create interesting benefits for the Perth Freight Link, says a candidate in October’s council elections.

Mark Woodcock recently pitched his idea to planners at Main Roads and they were interested enough after listening for 90 minutes to give him a one-on-one with WA transport minister Dean Nalder, where he spent another hour.

Mr Woodcock, a chef who designs cruise liner kitchens, says other locals helped develop the concept.

He claims it would relieve congestion by taking all drivers heading north and south into a tunnel and disgorging them past North Fremantle or on Roe 8 in Hamilton Hill.

Entrances at South Street and Leach Highway would divert traffic coming from the east, he says.

“North Fremantle would become a quiet suburb again,” Mr Woodcock says, allowing Queen Victoria Street to cater for local traffic, bikes and pedestrians.

He says the plan would also help relieve congestion that’s expected to clog Hampton Road once the Cockburn Coast development brings an additional 10,000 residents into the area.

He also tried to convince Mr Nalder to ditch the current preferred option for two 10-metre tunnels side-by-side, claiming it will only cater for current traffic, not future volumes.

A single 28-metre tunnel would cope with today’s and tomorrow’s traffic, and still have room for train lines which could be added at some point in the future. That, he says, could finally pave the way for an east-west rail link in the southern suburbs, or be linked to the current freight link and remove trains from Fremantle altogether.

His plan also frees up a swag of semi-industrial land north of Tydeman Road, which he says could be sold for housing to help affray some of the additional costs. Being near the North Fremantle train station, he says housing there could be dense while still attracting a premium price.

Dirt and rock excavated for the tunnels could be dumped off North Fremantle, effectively expanding Rous Head, he says.

Apart from significantly extending the life of the port — and boosting its sale price — he says a sweetener for locals could be a marina and boat-launching facility on the northern side.

“And you’ll notice I haven’t even talked about the trucks,” Mr Woodcock trumpeted. “I took the approach that if this was going to happen, rather than simply oppose it like many others, I would look at how it could be bring the most benefits to Fremantle.”

He says trucks could be forced south into the tunnel from the port with a modified entrance in North Fremantle, ensuring they keep off suburban roads.

But he’s not a fan of the federal government’s insistence on a toll, saying to make his system work, the state government should instead look at imposing a surcharge on every container that enters the port.

Mr Woodcock acknowledges his plan won’t appease people opposed to Roe 8 going through the Beeliar wetlands, but reckons it’s on the cards anyway, even if the port shifts south like the protestors want.

“Just look at the Latitude 32 report,” he says. “It’s in there.”

“Then there’s all the seagrass in Cockburn Sound. I guess they’ll be arcing up about that once planning for the harbour down there starts.”


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