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Get out your pencil and design a new bridge

Design Your New Bridge

The top image was sought by the Fremantle Society from local architect Matt Wallwork, and shows a retained heritage listed wooden bridge converted to pedestrian and cyclist use featuring market stalls, and on the right a combined new road and rail bridge with the rail running underneath. This design is not the offical position of the Fremantle Society. It is just an idea by a clever local architect, and we all need to be involved in this process of getting the best bridge possible. Some of the world's best bridges like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge were built in the depths of the Depression of the 1930s when people came together and worked together to get the funds and the impetus to build iconic structures.

The second image is one of the most highly rated bridges in the world, by Juscelino Kubitschek. Its cost when built 17 years ago was $75 million, much less than the $230 million allocated for the new Fremantle bridge. AND the Kubitschek bridge is 6 TIMES as long as the proposed new Fremantle one.

The design of the Kubitschek bridge is relevant to Fremantle for those interested in representing Aboriginal history, as the design can be seen to reflect the mythical Waugal, said to have created the Swan River.

Why can't we have a world class new bridge? A fitting entry statement to Fremantle is possible if the government stops rushing this project, and if the community step up.

Members may be interested to know about the all day stakeholder meeting held last Friday by Main Roads concerning the proposed new Fremantle traffic and rail bridge.

Initially scheduled for the Tradewinds Hotel, until the Fremantle Society pointed out that the hotel was a quarantine centre for Covid, it was transferred to the Esplanade Hotel, though that didn't stop one community member coughing over her neighbours all day in a crowded non socially distancing room.

There were only a few, unpaid, community members. The room was full mainly of $500 a day mayors like Dr Pettitt and engineers, and staffers from politicians. It was very well run by Nicole Lockwood from the Port Taskforce.

There was confusion in the room even at the end of the day about what the $230 million would cover and what it couldn't, and whether a new rail bridge was needed at all given we are told the port will be moving to Cockburn as soon as 2032.

But the Fremantle Society has a major news story exclusively for you later this week about why the new port CANNOT be moved to Cockburn Sound.

Main Roads want to demolish the heritage listed traffic bridge and build a boring concrete one 4 metres from the Northbank apartments. They say the lovely current bridge costs $400,000 a year to maintain (a not unreasonable sum for a bridge that carries 24,000 vehicles a day, strangely down from the 28,000 a day in 2005). 

Main Roads want to build a new bridge upstream of the current one as they say there is not enough room on the downstream side, but by the end of the day it seemed the message from the community was loud and clear about the need to build downstream. Attendees were asked to put little post it notes on the various options on the tables - the Main Roads option, along with highly selective options from their 2006 public consultation, omitting the option to save the existing bridge, Council's option for a downstream new bridge and possible saving of existing, and Andrew Sullivan's very downstream solution wiping out berths but solving various North Fremantle traffic problems, while saving only some of the existing bridge. There was a sense that the Sullivan model, while worthy, was too much of a big picture solution that would take years and years of planning.

If enough political pressure can be put on Labor politicians, it is possible the new bridge could be built downstream instead of upstream, and even our current bridge could have a future for pedestrians and cyclists. Fremantle Council were previously told the alignment positions were fixed, but on Friday Main Roads agreed to put other options to the Minister. 

The Fremantle Society will continue to push for the retention of the fabulous heritage bridge which has served us so well, and for a high quality new bridge.

The key person is Rita Saffioti, Planning Minister.

Email:  minister.saffioti@dpc.wa.gov.au

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