Cross Crossing Consultation
A large crowd turned up at the North Fremantle Community Hall Tuesday 31 August for the final of three Main Roads forums on the new river crossings.
Most were there to seek repurposing the heritage wooden bridge into a New York style High Line bridge, as demonstrated by the photo above which shows what happened when Save Freo Bridge Alliance convenor Isadora Noble asked the crowd how many were there to save the wooden bridge.
Around 80 people crowded into the hall. Main Roads did not want to let most of them in and were unhappy that they initially lost control of their meeting. The sign in table was deserted and Fremantle Society president John Dowson wrote his name on a name tag there, only to have it physically taken away from him by a Main Roads staffer, who then tore it into small pieces in front of him.
The meeting began badly when it was obvious that Main Roads only wanted to consult with those who had booked ahead (one Fremantle Society committee member had booked a ticket and had been allocated one, but Main Roads cancelled it without explanation.). At one point school prefect Cr Doug Thompson interjected to shut down a community member who dared ask a question instead of listening. No other councillor was present, though acting Mayor Sullivan and his iPhone made a brief appearance. Real community leadership was shown by Dr Carmen Lawrence, who not only attended, but spoke to mollify the ruffled waters, while standing up for heritage and proper consultation, something Fremantle Council has abysmally failed to do.
Those in attendance protested that they wanted to have a say on the retention of the bridge, though a Main Roads staffer at an earlier meeting had stated that any comments 'off script' would not be passed on anyway.
The crowd quietly listened to an abbreviated presentation by Main Roads, where yet again Main Roads fulsomely covered Aboriginal history of the river, but skipped the last 190 years of history and the history of the bridges and Main Roads' own significant history with wooden bridge building. No historian or heritage expert from Fremantle has yet been consulted.
Main Roads abandoned their meeting after the presentation, but there was a chance to talk to staff. The bridge architect was asked if a suspension bridge had ever been considered or costed, but the answer was no, though the project manager said 'it was not out of the question.' A suspension bridge could:
a) be a stand out attractive entry statement into Fremantle
b) reduce navigation hazards and allow the wooden heritage listed bridge to remain for pedestrians and cyclists.
Main Roads indicated they have not considered having new bridges WEST of the current rail bridge and trying to solve some of North Fremantle's serious traffic snarls.
Main Roads admitted a new bridge is not needed for 'capacity' reasons. It is needed because the current bridge was built as a 'temporary' one. That is, just like the Eiffel Tower..
The Fremantle Society