MAIN ROADS could be just days away from releasing final designs for Fremantle’s new traffic bridge, says Greens MLC Brad Pettitt.
The former Fremantle mayor says he’s heard the department is likely to put up three options, but there’s a catch; two are unpalatable and the third unpopular.
“Putting forward two terrible and one merely bad option is straight out of the Yes Minister playbook,” Dr Pettitt told the Herald.
He said there is a fourth idea which “is another better option that almost everyone, but Main Roads, supports”.
It includes putting the new bridge on the western side of the current one and leaving the road network as it is. Main Roads’ latest plan was to divert Canning Highway under the new bridge and along the port, but that galvanised a number of groups in their opposition and they convinced Fremantle council not to give it support.
Dr Pettitt said that option would also increase the amount of parkland for the community.
Save Old Fremantle Bridge Association co-founder Isadora Noble says the 80-year-old bridge has the “highest heritage listing of any infrastructure project in Western Australia” and she’s still fighting to stop it being demolished.
“The original one was built by convicts, and you can actually still see some of the pylons in it today,” she said.
Ms Noble said the bridge was a key part of Fremantle’s history which was threatened by Main Roads’ and the McGowan government’s “knock it over entirely” plans. None of the three option Dr Pettitt believes are going to be presented would preserve any significant portion of the old structure.
“Better planning needs to happen,” Ms Noble says.
“[There’s] a lot of community opposition, a lot of heritage opposition, a lot of cultural opposition, Indigenous significance in the area and all of these are being disregarded by Main Roads and the state government.”
Dr Pettitt says the three options he hears are on offer are about “moving cars above people and place”.
One includes a revisit of an eastern positioning of the bridge, bringing it hard up against apartments in North Fremantle.
A second option is to close the bridge to traffic while it is replaced in situ, which Dr Pettitt said would create “chaos”.
“The only way to get into the Fremantle CBD from north of the river will be along Stirling Highway and the down High Street as it reduces to 40kmh and a single lane,” Dr Pettitt said.
“This closure, terrible traffic congestion and loss of visitations will be devastating for many Fremantle businesses.”
The third option is the diverted Canning Highway.
North Fremantle Community Association president Gerry MacGill said he hadn’t heard that the eastern alignment was possibly back on the table, and without more information he couldn’t say much.
The Herald sent questions to Main Roads, but hadn’t received a response by deadline.
by APRIL HANCOCK