Cockburn line ‘not a priority’

COCKBURN mayor Logan Howlett told premier Colin Barnett his transport priorities in the region were off-kilter when the pair met to look over the soon-to-open Cockburn Arc on Tuesday.

The premier had just announced a $520 million railway line connecting Thornlie and Cockburn would be built by 2023 if his government was re-elected in March.

But Mr Howlett told Mr Barnett while the announcement was welcome, a long-awaited bridge linking North Lake and Armadale roads across the Kwinana Freeway was a more pressing priority.

“While we’re pleased with the announcement because of the potential for the railway to bring jobs into Cockburn, when you look at Gateway the traffic congestion there is holding them up from proceeding to stage 4 and 5 of their expansion, which is about 1500 jobs,” Mr Howlett later told the Herald.

He says Mr Barnett acknowledged there was a problem at the snarled intersections around Beeliar Drive and the freeway.

“It can take you five minutes, or it can take you an hour and five minutes,” Mr Howlett said.

Cockburn and Armadale councils have spent record amounts of money upgrading the roads leading to the proposed bridge, which lies in seventh position on Main Roads’ list of transport priorities for the metro region.

Mr Howlett told the Herald the federal government had indicated it would help fund the bridge if the state government commits funds.

“We’re number seven on the list, and the first six projects have been allocated funding, and some of the ones down the list have also been funded, but we’re still waiting,” Mr Howlett said.

Mr Barnett says the railway line could open up investment and housing opportunities, while also helping fans get to the new Perth Stadium.

The 17.5 km link would follow the existing freight track from Thornlie and two new stations will be built.

Labor says the LibNat government can’t be trusted with rail commitments after abandoning the promised Max light rail to Mirrabooka after the last election. Mr Barnett acknowledges it was a broken promise.

by STEVE GRANT

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