Letters 14.8.21

Off track

GET ON TRACK couldn’t be more off track (Herald Letters, July 10, 2021).

Congratulations on a well written, positive but self-serving spin on a pitch for mountain bike riding at Manning Park. 

However, most MBR are between 20 and 40, male, not 

‘families “as your opinion stated. 

The regular MBR that utilises the many illegal MB trails they have created, have not shown regard for the park that you express.

What is factual is that Manning Park has experienced a detrimental change in the environment due to these trails and users of them. 

Disturbance sends birds constantly in flight, reptiles experience slow death as they can’t escape silent, fast bikes, and weed invasion spreads from the trails. 

The endangered black cockatoos have their food source (protected parrot bush) cut down and uprooted by riders to make way for what they want. 

There are rare unacknowledged ecosystems in MP that are in danger of disappearing from what was once a sanctuary. 

It is not about ‘them’ or ‘us’ or even sharing, we are free to choose where we go.  It’s about preserving Manning Park and putting conservation before convenience.

Our suburban bush parks are disappearing through infrastructure and human demands, but we don’t ‘need’ anything.

We already have everything we need; this is a ‘want’. 

Parks catering for MBR that you have experienced overseas, down south and in the hills are located on 1000s of hectares of parkland where there is room for fauna to flee or relocate to. 

Manning Park is a regional park hemmed in by suburbia, like an island; there is nowhere for them to go. 

As for being a world class MBP or the best in WA, just not possible. 

It is far too small, unsustainable, unsuitable, requires upkeep, sandy and rocky, lacks in gradient, and by honest MBR, “not that good for MBR.” 

Mountain biking is a great sport, agreed, but it is a choice and so is where you live. 

So, if the residents in the hills have to travel to the coast to surf, then traveling to the hills to pursue your action sport is par for course. Manning Park is the wrong site for MBR, it is just convenient, for all the wrong reasons. 

Name and address supplied.

Burning bridges

ONCE again we have the issue of the old Fremantle bridge writ large across the pages of the Fremantle Herald. 

According to what we read regarding this structure, it is well past its use by date.

Built in 1939 to last 40 years, it has lasted 82 years. 

According to the professional engineers involved in assessing the viability of the structure, it is time it came down and was replaced, before it falls down. 

The cost of maintaining it, if at all possible, is going to be costly. 

That cost would be born by all West Australians, whether you lived in Fremantle or not. 

So we have a vocal local minority who want to ‘preserve’ the bridge for the use exclusive of pedestrians and cyclists; my initial response to this is that it is extremely selfish that a minority want the larger populace to fund their ‘pleasures’.

Surely it is possible for any new bridge design to incorporate provision for pedestrians and cyclists, as does the Mount Henry bridge across the Canning. I know the Mt Henry does not have large river traffic to cope with as does the Fremantle bridge, so height above the river is not so critical as the Fremantle crossing, however these things are designed by clever and talented people so a solution can be found. 

Keeping the old bridge is just nonsensical and costly.

Rod Steed 

Society responds

THE excellent bridge coverage by the Herald last week gave all sides to the story.

In summary, the Fremantle Society responds:

• Planning minister Rita Saffioti’s claim that the government gave the people what they wanted is false, as none of the options offered to the public included retaining the heritage bridge.

• Planning minister Saffioti’s claim that the heritage listing of the bridge is “questionable” flies in the face of all evidence for the level 1a structure, the highest heritage listing available.

• Planning Minister Saffioti’s claim that a new bridge will be “a congestion buster” is a myth, because traffic numbers on the bridge are over 10 per cent down on what they were 15 years ago.

• Premier Mark McGowan says pot holes on the bridge are damaging vehicles – but why don’t Main Roads fix them then? 

• Premier McGowan says the bridge is on “life support”. Why then is there a sign before the bridge saying you can accelerate from 50 and cross the bridge at 60kph, even in a 40 tonne truck?

If this is the level of truth and accuracy we get from the government, it begs the question what we are being told about other issues like Covid.

There is no doubt that two more bridges between the timber and rail one adds congestion, but why not therefore build them west of the current rail bridge, and even consider a suspension bridge?

For inspiration about the New York style High Line bridge idea being currently promoted, look at what community activism did in Busselton with their timber jetty.

That jarrah structure stood in the ocean for 150 years, battered by foul weather, Cyclone Alby in 1978, and fires in 1972 and 1999.

In 1987 the Shire of Busselton surveyed ratepayers about the future of the jetty and a resounding 90 per cent  considered the restoration of the jetty to be the most important project for the shire.

The Busselton Jetty Preservation Committee raised $3 million, and the Liberal government put in $24 million for repairs. Run by the Busselton Jetty Inc, with a 50-year maintenance plan in place, the jetty now attracts 700,000 visitors in a good year, pays the local council $900,000 a year for maintenance and insurance, and still makes a profit.

Fremantle’s jarrah and wandoo bridge hasn’t had the storms and fires of the ocean jetty, and despite some wear and tear, is in good shape. 

The Fremantle Society have spoken to maintenance workers currently there, on three occasions. They like the bridge. It is a proud standout among 2,000 existing timber bridges in WA, and according to the workers will still be there in six years anyway as Main Roads take so long to do their projects. 

They say the bridge is sound and with the recent demolition of the Collie Bridge they have good timber supplies for any repairs needed to the Fremantle Bridge. 

We need the government to appreciate what is already there — a heritage asset worth millions of dollars, that can be repurposed. 

Let’s get on and create an exciting cycle and pedestrian High Line.

John Dowson

Life begins when? 

WHO was it who said “Life begins at eighty!?”

Almost certainly no one.

C Dortch
Howard St, Fremantle

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