Fremantle Council is urging the state government to hit the pause button on the development of the new Fremantle Traffic Bridge to allow for greater community engagement.
At a meeting last week the council unanimously adopted an urgent motion from North Fremantle Ward Councillors Bryn Jones and Doug Thompson and Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan supporting community calls for a pause in the current Main Roads WA design and procurement process to enable a proper and meaningful community engagement process on a range of options for the Swan River Crossings Project.
Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan said the local community was very concerned the project scope was too narrow and was being rushed through without proper consideration of how to get the best possible outcome for Fremantle.
“Main Roads have a very narrow brief to replace a traffic bridge located to suit community needs in 1938. The modern-day transport and planning demands in and around Fremantle need proper consideration and are rapidly evolving,” Cr Sullivan said.
“It’s exciting that the McGowan government is committed to replacing the river crossings. We welcome plans to resolve the current conflict between passenger and freight rail as the port will still be functioning for some time to come.
“Clearly, the design Main Roads have for the replacement traffic bridge dates back to at least to 2004, and possibly much earlier, so it isn’t exactly up to date with a rapidly evolving maritime city.
“Bridges aren’t just a means to get cars across a river. They bring communities together, they are an extension of our urban villages, and this bridge is very much the gateway to our city. We know the McGowan government can do much better than this leading up to our bicentenary in 2029.”
North Fremantle Councillor Bryn Jones said the bridge alignment proposed by Main Roads WA would have a negative impact on North Fremantle and its residents.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the future planning for North Fremantle right and what is being proposed fails completely,” Cr Jones said.
The state and federal governments committed matching funding to the $230 million Swan River Crossing project last year, while earlier this year the new bridge was included on a list of projects to be fast tracked as part of the state government’s COVID-19 economic recovery measures.
In June, Fremantle Council requested Main Roads WA engage in a full and transparent community engagement process that included the evaluation of at least two different design options and bridge alignments.
The council also adopted a number of design principles in relation to the project, including that the bridge should demonstrate excellence in design and create a memorable gateway experience, the public realm resulting from the project is safe, attractive, connected and inviting and the character of the North Fremantle townsite is protected from additional traffic impacts and extended towards the river.