THE Fremantle Traffic Bridge would have to be virtually rebuilt even to remain as a pedestrian-only river crossing, says Main Roads.
In response Herald questions about retaining the old bridge as a tourism ‘high line’ project beside a new crossing dedicated to vehicles, the department says it’s not just worm-infested pylons causing concern, as “many” of its timber parts are unable to “sustain a viable structure”.
While the department’s inspections had been based on determining the bridge’s ability to get cars and trucks safely across the Swan, it says the findings don’t paint a good picture for pedestrians.
“It is not just an issue of loading,” a spokesperson for Main Roads said.
“For example, the concrete used to encapsulate the wooden piles has cracked, leading to deterioration of the wooden piles.
“The reduction of the riverbed levels over the years has further compromised the timber piles in the water, reducing their structural capacity. The deck has deteriorated and needs to be replaced.”
It says replacing the timber like-for-like wouldn’t meet current design and durability standards, while yet another structure would make it even more difficult for boats to navigate.
The Herald has heard from boaties that because the pylons of the separate traffic and rail bridges don’t align, they have to jig to get through, increasing the risk of an accident.
With the project also creating a dedicated passenger rail crossing, Main Roads says a high line project would result in four bridges, adding to the environmental stress on the river.
“Our cultural heritage engagement has also identified a desire to limit the number of structures being built into the river and impacting river flows,” the spokesperson said.
The department said building the passenger rail line would allow more freight into Fremantle port by rail while the outer harbour project is designed and built.
“Following the transition of the container port to Kwinana, the existing freight rail infrastructure could be retained, repurposed or removed.”