THE Morrison government has committed $115 million towards replacing the ageing Fremantle Traffic Bridge.
The bridge funding is part of a pre-election budget splurge of $1.6 billion on infrastructure projects across WA, with most of the funds being allocated to five key marginal seats the Coalition must win to stay in power.
Mr Morrison made the funding announcement in Perth on Thursday (March 28), after attending a fundraiser the previous night.
Fremantle Labor MP Josh Wilson welcomed the decision and promised Labor would match the commitment if it won power at the federal election expected mid-May.
“I have argued the case for a new bridge in parliament and I am glad the Coalition government has decided at the last minute to support the project,” Mr Wilson said.
“It comes in the same week that RACWA have identified that WA has not been receiving its fair share of funding derived from road taxes.”
Mr Wilson wants to retain at least part of the old bridge for community gatherings.
Fremantle council “welcomed the bipartisan support” for a new bridge, and said replacing it would help transform the city.
“The Fremantle Traffic Bridge is an important northern gateway into Fremantle, but it’s reaching the end of its life as a carriageway for cars and trucks,” mayor Brad Pettitt said.
“Main Roads’ assessment of the bridge is that without significant remedial maintenance it will have to close in the near future.
“If that were to happen without a suitable alternative in place it would cause traffic chaos for Fremantle and have a big impact on freight getting to and from the Fremantle Port.
“Our plan is for a new bridge to be built between the existing traffic bridge and the rail bridge, and to convert the old bridge into a pedestrian and cycleway.
“Another important element of the project is to create a dedicated freight railway line, which would eliminate the current conflict between freight and passenger trains.
“A dedicated freight line would allow the port to handle more freight on rail during daylight hours, so we’re very pleased this has been included in the federal government’s announcement.”
The replacement of the Freo traffic bridge was recently prioritised by Infrastructure Australia.