Bridges ‘fall short’

RESIDENTS’ group the Fremantle Better Bridge Alliance says four new options for a replacement Fremantle traffic bridge released by the McGowan government still fall short of community expectations. 

The alliance, representing the North Fremantle Community Association and Better Bridge Alliance, says none of the options addresses its key concern about the bridge’s role in long-term planning for the area, particularly with plans to shift Fremantle port’s operations to Kwinana. 

FBBA praised the government for pausing the project to reconsider the single, unpopular option originally presented by Main Roads and says of the four now options, the first would have the least adverse consequences for Fremantle and North Fremantle.

Main Roads’ options include: 

• Two new bridges between the existing alignment, with the existing traffic bridge to disappear, a new passenger rail bridge including two tracks and the existing freight track to remain (it’s got 40 years before major works would be needed).

• The same as the first option except there’s only one track on the passenger rail;

• Main Roads’ original plan, with the new traffic bridge to the east of existing bridge and a passenger rail bridge with two new tracks between the existing bridges. It was the one particularly hated by Northbank residents as it brought traffic to within metres of some homes; and,

• A new traffic bridge on the present alignment and an extra two-track rail bridge to the east. Main Roads says this will cause the most delays because the existing traffic bridge will need to be demolished before any work on the new one can start. 

Main Roads’ bridge builders, operating as the Fremantle Bridges Alliance, held a forum last week with stakeholders who’d previously taken part in the consultation.

The residents’ group said they were impressed by how thoroughly the crossing options had been looked into, but disappointed by the lack of a broader issue.

“Without addressing the regional planning context in concert with the community, we cannot possibly build the best bridge(s) for the next 100 years,” community alliance spokesperson Rebecca Clarkson said in a release.

Ms Clarkson said the group questioned the need for $80 million to add rail bridges when container traffic is likely to disappear when the Outer Harbour is built.

Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk said: “The Swan River Crossings Project is one of the most complex, challenging and exciting projects the McGowan government is undertaking in the metropolitan area right now – road, rail, port, freight, river, walking, cycling, heritage, environment are all in the mix.” 

Main Roads plans to start construction in late 2021, with state and federal governments each kicking in $115 million. 

by KATHERINE HOOPER

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