Bridge too far?

WHEN cruise ships arrive back in Fremantle from October 22, passengers and crew will no longer be able to use the footbridge that connects the Passenger Terminal to Beach Street, because the Public Transport Authority has closed the bridge permanently, citing safety issues.

Fremantle council and Fremantle Ports are keen that the PTA replaces the bridge with a new one, or with a level-crossing in the same location, but the PTA doesn’t appear keen, and have not replied to my email question, if and when that might happen.

Everyone who disembarks and goes into Fremantle will have to walk, with heavy luggage, about one kilometre to the crossing near the railway station, to go to a hotel or B&B. 

Millions of dollars is to be invested on major hotel, residential and commercial developments along Beach Street, so direct crossing for pedestrians from there to Victoria Quay will become even more essential. 

There are plans for substantial development along Victoria Quay. Fremantle Ports has been spending a lot of money on upgrading A and C Sheds, at around $3 million each. 

B Shed will need similar money for re-piling and stabilising the sagging ground, while E Shed has been repainted. 

The Ports has also spent a quarter of a million on new way finding signs along Victoria Quay, and received $7.5m from the WA government for amenities work.

Why is the PTA so inflexible? Fremantle council has for years expressed the desire for the bus port in front of the  railway station to be moved a hundred or so metres to the east, so that the station forecourt can be developed and beautified and connect better to Pioneer Park and the inner city, but the PTA is acting like an unmovable object and are resisting sensible change, no matter how often and long the council and Ports beg for this minor adjustment. Why?!

The PTA has also left out Fremantle with the new Airport Link. It stops at Claremont, but why not show that one only has to transfer to a train that connects to Fremantle, and for that matter to Cottesloe and Mosman Park, where many visitors book accommodation?

With plans to relocate Fremantle Port to Kwinana, there will be substantial residential, tourist and commercial development at North Quay and Victoria Quay, so good connectivity between the port precinct and the inner city will become even more essential and crucial. 

That should also mean that Main Roads build a new freight bridge that could be easily converted into a pedestrian and cycle bridge, when container freight trains no longer use it.

That entire port precinct needs to be planned and developed in context.  The Future of Fremantle Committee is working on that, but all agencies need to be good team players. 

Would it be good to have an overriding state redevelopment authority, such as the ones we had in East Perth, Subiaco, Midland and Armadale? 

My concern though is that a Port MRA might ignore the wishes of the Freo community.

ROEL LOOPERS
Visit me at: freoview.wordpress.com

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