The Roe roundabout

RICHARD BEAVITT is a Bibra Lake resident who last week presented a petition calling on the McGowan government to rethink its plans for the Murdoch Drive extension. Mr Beavitt says the plan will create a “tailback” of cars stretching for a couple of kilometres through his quiet suburb and there could be better solutions that aren’t being examined because of Main Roads’ apparent haste to get the job done.

I RECENTLY attended a meeting organised by the Cockburn council and Bibra Lake Residents Association, where the council presented the residents with the results of an independent assessment of the effects of the Main Roads Western Australia design for the Murdoch Drive Connection.

I was alerted to the future impacts of traffic congestion in the suburb of Bibra Lake, particularly upon residents living near the junctions of Farrington Road, Bibra Lake Drive, the eastern end of Hope Road, and those who live on the Allendale estate. Traffic tailbacks of up to several kms in length were cited as a consequence of the currently preferred Main Roads’ design – ‘option 2’.

Cockburn council is to be commended for seeking an independent assessment rather than accepting information provided by the state government and MRWA as gospel.

The council has attempted to minimise the damage that will arise if the ‘cut and paste’ MRWA road design solution, (one that originated as part of the Roe 8/ Perth Freight Link design) is implemented.

The council has generated an alternative design for the MDC – ‘option 4’ – which prevents traffic easily flowing directly into the suburb of Bibra Lake from the Roe Highway.

It would be both a folly as well as economically unsound to allow Main Roads to create congestion in ways which could potentially support future arguments for reconsideration of major road building through the Wetlands and Coolbellup.

This would amount to ‘Roe 8 through the back gate…’

Under the perceived pressure of a state government decision between these two options ‘to be announced any day now’, it seemed that option 4 was a tolerable, lesser evil – the only viable way to salvage something from this situation.

However, in the face of a disappointing silence from local MPs on this matter, the mysterious shutting down of the community consultation group for this project, the reticence of council to deny that option 4 was anything but a ‘Clayton’s’ choice of no real choice, and the lack of any state government decision to date, it seemed that – once again – the whole matter of the relationship between citizens and representative government was the more important issue at stake.

Surely the greater evil here is the increasing lack of trust in government that citizens are developing.

Governments appear all too ready to treat consultation with citizens as a lesser evil – something that can be managed with flows of selective information that are not transparent about the difficult decisions being considered.

We do not elect representative governments to provide a preferential permanent ear to powerful lobbies or to fail to challenge the inertia of public bureaucracies.

Let us tap the brake on the haste being exercised around the MDC – there is no imperative to choose either the lesser evil of option 4 or the greater one of option 2.

Neither road design will provide appropriate access to a vital, resilient, forward looking Murdoch Activity Centre, nor take proper care of the people who either live nearby or work in the hospital, university or commercial centres that are part of it.

We need to step back and reconsider what we are agreeing to – both the road design and the processes that have led to it.

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