NEW plans for a roundabout at the intersection of High Street and Stirling Highway might ease congestion, but pedestrian safety will be compromised, says the Gibson Park precinct.
Earlier this week Main Roads released plans for the proposed upgrade of High Street, including a one-way slip road for residents and a wide median strip to separate traffic and preserve a line of mature trees.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt says it was “encouraging” to see the project progressing after so many years of false starts.
He noted Main Roads had listened to local concerns that previous models were overly intrusive and expensive.
‘We support an upgrade that addresses the safety and congestion issues along High Street and are pleased to see that the state government is listening to the city and local residents,” Dr Pettitt said.
“Our community wants to see reduced noise and pollution, and improved safety for motorists and pedestrians, as well as those living along High Street and users of the nearby Frank Gibson Park netball courts.”
But Shane Chambers from the Gibson Park precinct says they’re not feeling heard at all, as their major concern about the lack of crossing points for pedestrians hasn’t been addressed.
“We have 400 to 500 houses here, many with kids who have to cross Stirling Highway to get to school,” Mr Chambers told the Herald.
Back in 2013 under an earlier set of plans, Main Roads proposed a north-south overpass at Montreal Street, but Mr Chambers said that was the wrong direction, as most people headed west to school, the train station or the city centre.
“With the entrance of the new state government, the council went to them with a blueprint of what they felt was a middle ground that presented a solution to all the problems posed by traffic, heavy vehicle movements and the need for access for residents,” Mr Chambers says.
“This included an underpass at Holland Street and also one at Montreal.
“I think most residents felt that the provision of pedestrian access was a no-brainer and it would be included in the initial concept proposal.”
But there’s no indication of pedestrian crossings, prompting Mr Chambers to feel they’re “back at square one”.
“So the proposal, although it provides a slip road for the residents on High Street, is actually a bad deal for the residents in its current form.”
A former professional traffic modeller and now an acoustic physicist at UWA, Mr Chambers says the new design trims the options.
“The roundabout is going to be huge, and there is no way a pedestrian will be able to get across safely from any direction within 200 metres of it.”
Fremantle federal Labor MP Josh Wilson says he’s glad to have helped redirect Perth Freight Link money to the $118 million project.
“Now we will finally see a well-designed change that makes the road safer, improves amenity for local residents and netballers, and retains many of the beautiful trees as part of a new entry into Fremantle.”
But Mr Chambers describes the leafy median strip as “lip service” that’s a cheap way for Main Roads to satisfy its obligations to minimise noise. Main Roads’ plans are currently out for public consultation.
by STEVE GRANT