Unbridgable gap

Photo Caption: The Fremantle Society’s vision for the traffic bridge and replacement.

THE divide between Main Roads and the Fremantle community over how to get cars and traffic over the Swan River remains “as unbridgeable as ever” says a key participant at a forum on Monday.

North Fremantle Community Association chair Gerard MacGill attended the forum run by design collective DesignFreo to discuss the replacement of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge. The panel included representatives from the bridge builders Fremantle Bridges Alliance, Fremantle council, a design expert and community groups who aren’t thrilled with Main Roads’ options.

Mr MacGill says of the four options now put up by Main Roads, two could essentially be ruled out because of either community backlash or traffic chaos, while the remaining two were essentially the same option. He said “there is a strong flavour of Hobson or Catch 22 about it.

“What can be said with certainty, however, is that regardless of whichever option is decided upon, Fremantle is in for a seriously bad time for a long time.

“It will make the High Street/Stirling Highway roundabout look like minor road works.

“The only sensible thing to do of course is to build west of the rail bridge, leaving the traffic bridge open and achieving a vastly superior regional planning outcome.”

During the forum questions were also raised about whether a bigger, better bridge might start attracting trucks.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson, who said the society wasn’t made to feel welcome at the forum, called for the brakes to go on, saying bridge traffic had declined since 2006 and was only expected to increase by 2000 vehicles in the next 21 yearrs.

“The Fremantle Society wants to see the level 1a (“Exceptional significance”) wooden traffic bridge maintained until the government has worked out how to fix the Curtin Avenue and North Fremantle town centre traffic issues, to give North Fremantle back its amenity,” Mr Dowson said.

“In the meantime trucks and heavy traffic should be banned from the wooden bridge. With heavy traffic off the bridge, its life span is cheaper to extend and well within Main Road’s budget.”

Mr Dowson said when the works did go ahead, the society wanted to see the historic bridge retained for the community, suggesting it could have buildings on it to house attractions such as markets.

A new “aesthetic” bridge could replace it further west, he said. “[The government’s] lack of interest in our heritage, and the lack of advocacy from Fremantle council for the current bridge is scandalous.”

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