Council steps back from bridge support

FREMANTLE council has told Main Roads to go back to the drawing board and come up with better designs for the new Fremantle Traffic Bridge.

Following a public outcry over various aspects of the design, the council has stepped back from an original officer’s recommendation to offer broad support to the current design. 

The council’s finance and policy committee first acknowledged public sentiment with a range of amendments to the original officer’s recommendation, but leading up to the full council meeting on Wednesday, councillors Andrew Sullivan and Su Groome completely reworked a second attempt by the city’s planners.

They wanted more information available to the public and put forward a revised Principles and Objectives document outlining what the council wants to see the crossing project achieve. 

“We need a very detailed multi-criteria type process to help keep the government, the community and ourselves on the same page,” Cr Sullivan said. 

The council wants the new traffic bridge and surrounding roads to:

• prepare for future changes at Victoria Quay including housing;

• create a memorable but subtle gateway complimenting local landmarks; 

• divert traffic from Victoria Street onto Beach Street so the former can be developed as residential quarter;

• Protect the North Fremantle town centre and reconnect it to the river; and,

• Remove the hairpin turn between Beach Street and Queen Victoria Street.

The council also wants an assessment of the cultural  significance of all built and natural environments including its significance to Wadjuk Noongars.

“This is why we’re engaging so heavily in this because we think it matters and because we’re reflecting our community who think it strongly matters,” Cr Groome said.

Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said she wanted an options discussion and for the Council and stakeholders to be sitting at the table.

“This is a document that can be put in front of government for them to clearly understand what we are looking for through this process,” she said.

The two councillors’ amendment passed unanimously.

The McGowan government released its plan for the bridge in August with the old bridge being replaced by new traffic and rail bridges to the west of the old structure and removing the Queen Victoria Street/Canning Highway intersection.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that working alongside the council and community would continue as the project unfolded.

“Community consultation on this project will continue as we work through the final design and development stage before commencing construction,” she said.

Save the Bridge Alliance co-founder Richard Evans spoke from the public gallery on Wednesday and thanked the council for standing up to Main Roads WA and backing the community desire for consultation.

“Look at what happened to Roe 8…everybody thought you could never stop that. I think this is the same kind of thing,” he said.

Suggestions from attendees at the meeting ranged from the use of VR technology to see the future design to reconvening the community forum from 2020.

by LUKE COMMINS

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