FREMANTLE council has fallen behind its schedule to reopen the Whalers Tunnel and is now expecting to finish the job mid-March.
Infrastructure director Graham Tattersall said it had been a difficult and painstaking process.
“This third stage of the project has involved not only constructing the rockfall canopy but also reinforcing the entrance to the tunnel and the cliff face above it,” Mr Tattersall said.
“The limestone cliffs at Arthur Head are severely eroded and unstable, so we’ve had to be extremely careful to ensure the safety of the contractors as well as protect the sensitive heritage of the site.
“It has taken longer than we’d anticipated, but it’s a complicated job and it’s better to take the time to do it properly and complete the works to a high standard.”
Mr Tattersall said the council was sorry for the inconvenience, but the end result would be a great addition to Arthur Head.
But artists working in the J Shed to the rear of the bluff are unhappy, saying the closure has deeply affected their businesses.
“Having personally been at Greg [James] J Shed gallery every weekend from May 2019 through to January 2021, I can tell you that our visitor numbers dropped by 80 to 90 per cent after the tunnel’s closure and remain at an all-time low while we wait for it to finally open again,” gallery manager David Moran told the Herald.
He said none of the occupants of sheds had been canvassed by the council about the impact on their businesses.
by STEVE GRANT