Architects back ‘recycling’ bridge

THE Australian Institute of Architects has joined local protestors in calling for the McGowan government to save Fremantle’s timber traffic bridge.

The 80-year-old bridge is getting too old to handle many more cars and trucks and Main Roads has announced it will be demolished and replaced by new traffic and freight bridges.

But in a submission to Infrastructure WA, the institute says it should be recycled and re-used for recreation and tourism.

“Existing building assets should be adapted/re-used to extend commissionable life or bring new use to a retired asset,” the institute’s submission read.

It also wanted greater consider given to heritage values.

“An example is the Freemantle [sic] traffic bridge over the Derbal Yerrigan (Swan River) between Fremantle and North [Fremantle].

“This almost century-old structure is an iconic reminder of Freemantle’s history and of important cultural significance.”

The institute urged Infrastructure WA to ditch the “default setting” of demolition when assets are decommissioned from their primary purpose.

FOI deadline

Save Fremantle Bridge Alliance founder Isadora Noble said the institute’s support for the bridge had come out of the blue, but she felt it significantly bolstered the group’s campaign.

Ms Noble said the alliance had its own engineer’s cast their eye over the old bridge, and they’ve dismissed Main Road’s claim it is unsalvageable. The department is also dragging its heels over providing the engineering reports it used to reach that position; citing insufficient resources, it has asked the alliance for an extension of the mandated  deadline on a FOI request.

Ms Noble has also come out against mayoral favourite Hannah Fitzhardinge, the only candidate who has publicly backed the bridge’s demolition during a recent candidate’s forum.

Cr Fitzhardinge told the Herald the city couldn’t afford to take on any more high-cost heritage assets and there was no indication the state government was interested in converting the bridge into a New York-style high line project.

Ms Noble said Cr Fitzhardinge was trying to give people the impression that support for the old bridge could see the city miss out on a new one.

“Saving the old bridge has no implication on the community getting a new bridge,” Ms Noble said.

“The new bridge has already been financed by the state and federal government and $230 million has been allocated to the project.”

by STEVE GRANT

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