What a Difference a New Government Makes: Options for High St and Stirling Highway to be developed with Freo Community

I was pleased to read the media statement below that came out yesterday from new Transport Minister Rita Saffioti that we would not just have a High St/Stirling Hwy solution imposed on Freo residents.

Instead of an imposed solution, the minister has said “options for upgrades are being developed and will be presented for discussion with the local council and community in coming months”

In the meantime the City of Freo will also work up some options based on community feedback.

Our sense is that the commitment to the outer harbour and potentially capping the Fremantle inner harbour has rendered the previously proposed major upgrades to High Street and Stirling Hwy Fremantle (known as Options 4 and 4a) as potentially unnecessary as well as overly intrusive and expensive.

Instead of proceeding with these expensive options, Fremantle Council is looking forward to working with the new state government to come up with a more modest, near-term, lower cost solution that improves the safety and performance of the intersection but also improves other parts of the freight route including North Fremantle and the netball grounds at Gibson Park.

This means not proceeding with earlier options for the High Street and Stirling Highway intersection that focuses on controlled access standards and were designed for freight vehicles to travel at 70 kmh (signposted 60 kmh) and instead, upgrading the intersection to a level currently provided on other parts of the existing freight route such as the Stock Road and Leech Highway intersection.

Informal consultation with local residents on a preferred intersection design has identified the desire to:

  • improve safety at the Stirling Hwy intersection
  • improve safety for netballers to both park and access courts
  • improve pedestrian crossings north/south and east/west
  • improve the efficiency of vehicle movements
  • enable both public and private golf courses to continue to operate and for FERN to relocate
  • retain most of the mature trees south of High Street
  • reduce noise and pollution impacts on nearby residents and
  • be consistent with other major investment planned for the second harbour in Kwinana.

 

Minster’s Media Statement 2/05/2017 3:00 PM

  • Upgrade options for Stirling Highway and High Street to be discussed
  • Solution will tackle congestion and improve road safety
  • McGowan Government delivering on election commitment

The McGowan Government is developing a number of options towards addressing traffic concerns along Stirling Highway and High Street.

The State and Commonwealth governments recently reached an agreement on a substantial $2.3 billion road and rail infrastructure package for Western Australia.

As part of the agreement, an amount of $118 million was dedicated to an inherited proposal to upgrade a section of Stirling Highway and High Street, as outlined under the previous government.

The McGowan Government is now keen to work with the City of Fremantle to develop the best solution to address traffic issues in the area.

The investigation of new options is in line with the McGowan Government’s election commitment to deliver a comprehensive alternative to the Perth Freight Link.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti will be meeting with stakeholders in coming weeks to discuss strategies.

Various options for upgrades are being developed and will be presented for discussion with the local council and community in coming months.

Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:

“We understand the community interest in the future of these roads and will be developing options towards relieving congestion and improving safety.

“There will be a range of options considered that will relieve congestion and improve road safety.”

Minister’s office – 6552 5500

High Street Upgrades after the Perth Freight Link – some initial thoughts for discussion.

The killing off of the PFL and the ALP’s commitment to the outer harbour and potentially capping the Fremantle inner harbour has rendered the previously proposed major upgrades to High Street and Stirling Hwy Fremantle as potentially  overly intrusive and expensive.

With this in mind the Fremantle Council is looking forward to working with our community to push for a more immediate, lower cost, interim solution that improves resident amenity, safety and performance. This should  obviously include the key pinch point – the intersection of High Street and Stirling Hwy – which need to be upgraded ASAP to a level currently provided on other parts of the existing freight route such as the Stock Rd and Leech Hwy intersection.

The recent slow growth in containers number means that there is time to do a full investigation into the proposed outer harbour before committing to any major upgrades to this area that would have multiple flow-on impacts including likely impacts on residents, the golf courses and Boo Park.

This means not proceeding with Option 4 as previously proposed (see below for an illustration of what we did not support) and instead creating an improved road but NOT one that is focused on controlled access standards or one that allows freight vehicles to travel at 60kmh around the High and Stirling bend!

This was Main Roads Option 4 which the Fremantle Council did NOT support

Principles for new High Street design:

  • Needs to be improve safety including at Stirling Hwy intersection;
  • Needs to be made safer for netballers to both park and access courts;
  • Needs to enable both public and private golf courses to continue to operate;
  • Needs to retain most of the mature trees south of High Street;
  • Needs to improve the efficiency of vehicle movements;
  • Needs to reduce noise and pollution impacts on nearby residents;
  • Needs to be consistent with the major investment planned for the second harbour;
  • Needs to improve pedestrian crossings north south and east/west;
  • What else?

A moderate and immediate upgrade to High/Stirling intersection

There needs to be an immediate upgrade at the intersection of High Street and Stirling Highway immediately to make it safer and more efficient. This should include an exploration of upgrades including:

  • Flattening out the small peak just west of Montreal Street;
  • Introducing a double turn right lane into Stirling Highway (like Stock Road/Leach Highway travelling from the port);
  • Introducing a slip lane onto High Street for trucks leaving the port so they do not have to stop at this intersection (like Stock Road/Leach Highway travelling to the port);

A moderate and immediate upgrade to High Street from Stirling to Carrington

  • Making the Royal Fremantle Golf Club, Chudleigh, Onslow, Wilkinson and Montreal Street intersections with High Street ALL “left in, left out” only;
  • Making it safer for netballers by formalising parking and upgrading the crossing of High Street via an underpass or overpass or adequate median strip with pedestrian traffic lights.

A more substantial upgrade would be all of the above plus building new west-bound lanes to the south of the mature trees on High Street and create a slip road for High Street residents.

 

Should either of these be the position that the Fremantle Council lobbies the State Government to fund?

The Fremantle Coucil and I love to hear your feedback.

Senate inquiry unanimously recommends Federal Government withdraw its funding for Perth Freight Link

If you are interested in the recent Senate Report on the Perth Freight Link this here is the link to the full report.

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Perth_Freight_Link

As the ABC reported

“A Senate inquiry has unanimously recommended the Federal Government withdraw its majority funding for WA’s controversial $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link project in favour of an outer harbour.” It was interesting there was no minority report by the Liberal Senators. It appears the PFL is increasingly  a project without many friends. Here is a snapshot from Chapter 5.

Committee view and recommendations

5.1        The Perth Freight Link is the most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in Western Australia. It has total funding from the federal and state governments likely to exceed its proposed capital expenditure of $1.9 billion, which includes $1.2 billion of Commonwealth funds. This amount of funding is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the infrastructure needs and long-term economic prosperity of Western Australia.

5.2        However, if the Perth Freight Link proceeds, it will blow this opportunity on a project that will not achieve what it proposes to do, and is not wanted – not only by the communities that it would run through but also by the business and transport sectors it purports to assist.

5.3        The committee believes Western Australia desperately needs investment in transport and freight infrastructure to ensure the prosperity and economic health of the state over the coming decades. This investment could be the key driver of the efficiency and productivity of the state’s business, agricultural, industrial and primary resource sectors over the coming decades, as well as having flow-on benefits for the general Australian economy.

5.4        However, it is clear from the evidence that the Perth Freight Link is not the right project for Australian governments to invest in. Accordingly, the committee considers that the Commonwealth should redeploy the funding earmarked for the Freight Link to other, more productive and properly-planned infrastructure funding in Western Australia.

The members of the committee were:

Members
Senator Glenn Sterle, Chair Western Australia, ALP
Senator the Hon Bill Heffernan, Deputy Chair New South Wales, LP
Senator Joe Bullock (to 13 April 2016) Western Australia, ALP
Senator Alex Gallacher (from 18 April 2016) South Australia, ALP
Senator Sue Lines Western Australia, ALP
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania, AG
Senator John Williams New South Wales, NATS
Other Senators participating in this inquiry
Senator Chris Back Western Australia, LP
Senator Scott Ludlam Western Australia, AG
Senator Linda Reynolds Western Australia, LP
Senator Dio Wang

PFL

Freo Traffic Bridge to Reopen (and we learnt a few things from it being closed too)

The good news is that Main Roads say the Fremantle Traffic Bridge is likely to be reopened in time for tomorrow morning’s peak traffic period after being closed last week for repairs. But the last three days have been instructional on a few levels.

First, it has reinforced what successive Fremantle Councils, local state members, and even Main Roads have said about the old Fremantle Traffic Bridge – it should be replaced. It was built as a temporary bridge 77years ago and is been kept safe through a $400k a year been spent on maintenance let alone the $21 million on pier protection works that have been happening over the last year.  It is time for the government to invest in an iconic new bridge across the Swan between the old traffic bridge and the railway bridge.

Second, it has also demonstrated what traffic will increasingly be like in North Fremantle with the Perth Freight Link enabling the increase of traffic. The projected doubling in truck numbers and associated induced demand that building freeways inevitably create means we can expect a lot more traffic on Stirling Hwy over the next decade. There were reports of traffic on Canning Hwy backed up this morning almost as far as Petra Street and on Saturday it was a queue from the new back all the way to the old one.  In otherwords it has shown that stage three of the PFL from High Street to the Fremantle Port need to be sorted out ASAP – or more sensibly an outer harbour built.

canning

Finally, a great thing it has shown is the potential and possibility for turning the old Fremantle Traffic Bridge into an iconic highline style pedestrian bridged with cafes and greens spaces over the Swan River (as per our Freo 2029 visioning document). Despite the old bridge being passed its used by date, I love this old wooden bridge with its fishing spots and romantic construction. This past week has made me think this old bridge deserves a rest and a new more peaceful life.

northern gateway 2.pngnorthern gateway

Freight Tunnel: Innovating like it’s 1955

Readers of my blog won’t be surprised to read the Fremantle Council in NOT supporting this further expense on a tunnel. Here is the press release we just put out:

The current Perth Freight Link (PFL) proposal, with increased federal funding for a tunnel from Stock/Winterfold Road to High Street/Stirling Highway is not supported by the City of Fremantle.

“The current $1.9b outlay for Roe 8 and the Roe 9 tunnel would be for a solution that is incomplete, short-sighted, has strong community opposition and won’t solve Perth’s ongoing freight and traffic issues,” said Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

“Among other issues including severe impacts on local communities in Fremantle, the proposed three kilometre tunnel connecting Roe 8 to Stirling Highway still fails to address the most difficult connection – from Stirling Highway at High Street across the Swan River and into Fremantle Port.

“We’ve become so frustrated by the lack of information from the state government on this critical aspect of the PFL, we’ve been forced to commission engineers to develop scenarios based on a massive new bridge and associated road works between North and East Fremantle; or a very expensive tunnel option underneath Fremantle and the Swan River.

“What that work shows is the extreme impacts this will have on the communities of East and North Fremantle, with the only alternative to overcome those issues being an expensive and complex $1.4 billion tunnel into the port. That would bring the total PFL project cost to almost $3.5 billion.” he said.

Dr Pettitt said the City strongly supports the development of a second harbour further south as a priority, allowing Fremantle port to handle manageable freight volumes into the future. This would be without the need for such a radical spend on transport infrastructure that provides only a short-term solution.

“A second harbour not only provides a long-term solution to the efficient transport of Perth’s freight issues, it does it in a way which has far less impact on people’s everyday lives and the environment – $3.5 billion goes a long way towards such a smart long-term investment in Perth’s future transport needs, both freight and domestic.”

 12304264_923421261072499_1722406732375830977_o

Mayors in push to build outer port

,Mayors in push to build outer port
An artist’s impression of how an outer harbour port at Kwinana could look. Image: Supplied

Four mayors and the president of WAFarmers have joined forces to shift the State Government’s focus away from Fremantle Port to the development of a multibillion-dollar alternative in the outer harbour.

WAFarmers president Dale Park and City of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt, the City of Cockburn’s Logan Howlett, the City of Kwinana’s Carol Adams and the Town of East Fremantle’s Jim O’Neill fear the WA economy could be hamstrung for the rest of the century if the outer harbour is overlooked in the rush to sell off State assets.

Jim O’Neill (East Fremantle), Brad Pettitt (Fremantle), Dale Park (WA Farmers Federation), Logan Howlett (Cockburn) and Carol Adams (Kwinana). Picture: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

Mr Park said that if the Government only concentrated on the Perth Freight Link and the inner harbour sale, WA was unlikely to see the benefits of a high-tech port able to handle giant container ships and with room to grow with industry.

The City of Kwinana has a new port site which would align with Rowley and Anketell roads and be serviced by a rail line.

Fremantle Port. Picture: Astrid Volzke/The West Australian

Treasurer Mike Nahan said forcing an early move to the outer harbour would result in stranded and under-utilised assets. Dr Nahan said the Government was on target to sell Fremantle Port by August.

It is still working on details of a sale package expected to fetch about $2 billion.

The West Australian

Roe 8 and its (better) alternatives

The Roe 8 issue came to a head today as Main Road’s drillers flanked by police were confronted by protesters near Bibra Lake today.

The argument put by supporters of this project including the State Government is that Roe 8 is needed regardless of whether the inner harbour is ramped up via the PFL or the outer harbour is built sooner. I don’t find this argument convincing for a couple of reasons:

One, Roe 8 will, due to the extraordinary measures it is required to take to lessen environmental impacts, be an extremely expensive bit of road. It will cost an estimated $400-500 million dollars in total. That is $100 million per kilometre or $1million for every 10 metres of road. It is just NOT good value for money. This money could likely fund the extension of Tonkin Hwy to the freeway AND upgrades of from the freeway Anketell or Rowley Road ALL the way to the outer harbour.  This is because Anketell and Rowley Roads do not need to go over important wetlands.

I recently drove both of Anketell and Rowley Roads to get a first-hand view of how they could be upgraded for freight transport and I was convinced they could be with both minimal ecological damage and community impact.

IMG_1691 IMG_1692 IMG_1694 IMG_1696

Two, Roe 8 should be canned not only because it is expensive and wasteful of taxpayers dollars – it should also not happen because it is wrong to put a road through an ecologically important wetland when there are workable alternatives.

Three and finally,  we can only have certainty that we will not get a freight freeway carving up White Gum Valley, Fremantle, North Fremantle and other suburbs if Roe 8 doesn’t get built.

Roe 8 is going to be a major issue over the next few months. Fremantle Council has opposed this road for well over a decade and our opposition will continue.