Bridge Open and Should Stay Open
The photo above is opening day for our heritage bridge, a survivor from 1939. Large crowds turned up.
Tonight, a large crowd turned up at the Town Hall to discuss the Main Roads proposal to demolish the heritage bridge and replace it with a dreary, standard, unattractive one.
The meeting was not a real town hall meeting encouraging discussion and input from the audience. The speakers were not allowed to be asked questions, and microphone owner Kavi Guppta shut down questions from the audience after a few minutes at 7pm, for a meeting that was supposed to run till 7.30pm.
The Fremantle Society has the following points to make which it couldn’t make tonight:
a) The very large turnout tonight shows the extent of community concern at the way Main Roads is handling this project.
b) Main Roads has admitted to the Fremantle Society that the heritage wooden bridge can be maintained and kept, but they dishonestly keep claiming it was only ever built as a “temporary bridge.”
It was built with an estimated life span of 40 years because Main Roads expected Fremantle Ports to push further up the river with a larger port, necessitating a new bridge. But, now that the port is heading south west to pollute the waters of Cockburn Sound, there is no need for extra room in the river.
c) When Main Roads demolished the wooden bridge in Mandurah a few years ago, they promised locals things that didn’t eventuate, but that bridge was only two lanes wide compared with the Fremantle four lane one, and it was only listed as a level two heritage structure, whereas the Fremantle one is listed at the highest category possible: 1a.
The Mandurah mayor put $30,000 towards bridge events there. When will the Fremantle mayor commit serious funds to saving Fremantle’s heritage bridge? After it is demolished? He has known about this issue for years and our wooden bridge is worth saving from being turned into firewood.
d) There are broader issues – dealing with Curtin Avenue traffic and traffic impacts on residents in North Fremantle, which give further reasons to pause the project and get it right – perhaps making the whole issue a Bicentennial project as suggested earlier.
e) What to focus on NOW: Urgently needed is an independent engineer’s report showing the current state of the bridge, along with a conservation plan that looks at options for conserving it.
Main Roads are already in discussions with the Heritage Council to get demolition approval of the wooden bridge, and refuse to release their report to the public. Time is of the essence.
The Fremantle Society
10 September 2020
0409 22 3622