At a crossroad
LAST evening, I attended a workshop by Main Roads regarding proposals for renewal of the Swan River – Derbal Yerrigan crossings between Fremantle and North Fremantle.
It was well prepared and Main Roads staff were ‘on-story”.
If Main Roads representatives are to be believed there is only one option to accomplish this project and that entails a new road crossing to be built upstream from the traffic bridge, and, an additional freight rail crossing to be built upstream from the existing shared rail bridge – monopolising the space available.
The work is apparently to be undertaken in two phases; the first the road crossing and the second the rail crossing, with a core consideration being to maintain road and rail connectivity for the construction period, a commitment I fully support.
I maintain the proposed crossing locations condemn the community and travellers to unnecessary sub optimal outcomes.
Choosing to locate a new road crossing upstream from the traffic bridge compounds the shortcomings of the existing situation insomuch as the landing on the Fremantle side presents as a terminating leg of a T-junction offering absolutely no sense of arrival or connectivity to Fremantle for people crossing the river.
A downstream location would liberate the potential for intuitive connectivity to Fremantle with the new river crossing; achieved by curving the crossing and road to mimic the existing rail crossing.
I cannot overemphasise the importance for travellers from North Fremantle to Fremantle to arrive in Fremantle, and not at some arbitrary T-junction.
Furthermore, for the North Fremantle landfall of a new bridge to be squeezed up against Northbank apartments is highly inappropriate due to probable impacts on residents.
The logic put forward for the location proposals is based on the fact two new bridges will not fit between the two existing bridges.
This is based on the belief they cannot locate an additional rail crossing downstream from the current shared rail crossing.
I challenge this as having no engineering basis.
If the motivation is Fremantle Ports insistence that they need all port land for operational requirements, that is not reason enough to so severely compromise this once-in-a-generation project.
Main Roads in fact stated on their story boards at the presentation that the downstream road crossing location was indeed their first preference.
We should return to that location, and if phase two ever becomes a reality, I am convinced a good engineering solution can be achieved.
The Swan River – Derbal Yerrigan crossing is of high heritage values for several reasons; firstly, it is a part of the Derbal Yerrigan river that has cultural and ceremonial importance for the First Nation people -the Wadjuk Noongar people and appropriate and significant consultation needs to be undertaken with the Elders, not a token process once the design is chosen.
The river crossing also holds significant heritage values for colonial people, and the bridge apparently due for demolition is on the State Register of Heritage Places.
Should the Heritage Council agree to the demolition of part or all of the existing bridge that renders the areas at either side of the river doubly important in telling the story of the river crossing.
Any construction needs to acknowledge and incorporate this into its design.
This aspect needs to take precedence over the more mundane issues of the design of a road crossing a river, because this project has to be much more than that.
In conclusion, the community needs to be able to choose between more than one option related to road bridge location; it is essential there is an option locating the bridge downstream from the existing one.
The design has to be fitting for the heritage of the location and Fremantle’s heritage values. Lastly, urban planners have to be part of the design team from the onset; good urban design cannot be retrofitted on the run.
Daly Street, South Fremantle
Ed’s note: Mr Strachan is a former Fremantle councillor.
IF you were booked speeding on Port Beach Road, Fremantle, on February 9, 2020 doing 55kmh in a 40kmh zone I would love to hear from you.
I suspect police were using the same speed for other tickets that day. I believe police were on
a revenue raising mission that afternoon and I want to make them accountable for their actions.
I don’t need your name, just gathering statistics for my court case.
If I am successful you may be able to argue your case too. If anyone wants to contact me the best way is by email at ceekinghealing@gmail. com.’
SIMONE McGURK’S claim of Labor party munificence towards Fremantle needs to be called out.
It was the Barnett Liberal government that initiated the move of the 2,000 government workers to Fremantle, with then-premier Colin Barnett signing the lease agreement in November 2016 – nothing to do with Labor.
As with the Court government’s project to build the Maritime Museum – the biggest cultural investment in Fremantle for that last 20 years — it was Gallop who got to cut the ribbon.
And as for the recent announcement of $35 million for mental health services at Fremantle Hospital, the mayor Brad Pettitt and councillor Rachel Pemberton have publicly voiced their warnings of what that means in terms of increased negative social pressure on Fremantle.
The recent sprinkle of funds for various minor projects, timed to coincide with the devastating announcement of the McGowan government’s intention to relocate the main function of the port to Kwinana, is insulting.
We have been poorly served by McGurk who, like mayor Pettitt had publicly and often professed her commitment to the working port, intact and in Fremantle.
Likewise, Josh Wilson has been very disappointing. How different things would have been if Chris Cain was our advocate, but his candidacy for the position was mysteriously overturned and Wilson given the plum spot.
Rather than supporting Fremantle, Wilson has been the banner boy for Kwinana mayor Carol Adams.
Similarly, it should have been Franklin Gaffney, a member of the local branch at the time and a feisty industrial relations lawyer, rather than Melissa Parke, to take over from Carmen Lawrence.
With Cain and Gaffney in place this would never have happened. And that is how far back these manoeuvrings have been in play, each step carefully planned by Labor insiders, McGowan chief amongst them, who have nothing but contempt for Fremantle.