Not lovin’ that bridge

OPPONENTS of Main Roads’ plans for a new bridge between Fremantle and North Fremantle will debut a new strategy of tough love this Sunday.

The North Fremantle Community Association is inviting residents down to a ‘love-in’ on Queen Victoria Street at 12 noon calling on the department to rethink the alignment. 

The event will be half-protest, half-community support day.

“It’s a chance for residents to show how much they appreciate their town centre,” says organiser Ann Forma. “People can come down and check out the local businesses, buy a coffee, have lunch, and visit the shops.”

Therapy

Whilst engaging in a little retail therapy might not seem like the most radical political statement, the day’s organisers have a very clear message in mind: rejecting the new traffic bridge plan proposed by the state government and Main Roads WA. 

This plan would see a wider bridge built east of the current crossing, a plan that Freo Mayor Brad Petit has slammed as “pandering to motorists”. 

The plan has been released as part of a process of community consultation – but to Ms Forma, it’s not really consultation whilst only one option is on the table. 

“It’s been presented as a discussion, but the outcome is predetermined,” she warns.

Love-in attendees are invited to bring signs down to “express their feelings”. 

Suggested slogans include “no traffic sewers here,” “plan for people, not traffic,” and “Road gang go home.” 

At midday, socially distanced attendees will raise their arms in a V – standing for Victoria Street, Victory, and Vanquish the invaders.

by LOTTIE ELTON

Council kept  in the dark

A MEETING of around 100 North Fremantle residents has called on the McGowan government to pause plans to replace the Fremantle Traffic Bridge.

Organised by the North Fremantle Community Association, the meeting heard even Fremantle council was blindsided by Main Roads’ latest designs, which residents fear will push cars and trucks within four metres of apartments in Northbank and help finish off the emerging town centre.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt told the crowd the council had been negotiating with the department under strict confidentiality for some time, but hadn’t seen the plans released earlier this month. They kill off hopes of preserving the existing heritage-listed bridge.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan received the biggest applause for his plan to bypass the North Freo town centre with an extension of Curtin Avenue along the existing railway line and across a new bridge west of the old one.

Main Roads has ruled this out as impinging on port operations, though there were mutters from the crowd it was politically motivated to stop anything encroaching on land that would be prime for development once freight operations are shifted to Kwinana. 

Cr Sullivan outlined his long involvement in the area’s planning, stemming back to the campaign to prevent the over-development of Leighton Beach in the late 90s.

State Labor MP Simone McGurk and her federal counterpart Josh Wilson came under fire from some in the crowd over their involvement in getting funding for the project, with attendees urged to target them in a letter-writing campaign.

Across the city the Fremantle Network met to discuss the related issue of the future of Fremantle without its port, although two of the three speakers used the opportunity to urge attendees to oppose the McGowan government’s outer harbour plans.

Former mayor Russell Aubrey continued his passionate defence of the abandoned Roe 8/9 project, saying it matched an expanded Fremantle port like “love and marriage”.

Fremantle councillor and former wharfie Sam Wainwright described the McGowan government’s claims that upgrading the road network to support an expanded Fremantle harbour would cost $8 billion as opposed to building a $4 billion outer harbour was “bullshit”.

“They have lumped every single Main Roads fancy project for the greater Fremantle into the distant future into their $8b sum,” Cr Wainwright said.

He claimed that despite the Westport Taskforce’s work, no detailed analysis taking into account environmental, social and capital costs had been undertaken for the new harbour.

“Before the [Perth Freight Link] debacle a long-standing, bi-partisan policy was that if and when the inner harbour container facility approached its capacity at that point the state would build a second container facility to supplement, but not replace the existing one.”

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