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Fremantle Stuff > bridges > Bridge 2021. See also Fremantle Society campaign.

Fremantle Traffic Bridge 2021

Fremantle has had five road bridges crossing the Swan River, two of which remain. A new one is now planned for late 2021.


The City of Fremantle's 2019 vision of the replacement of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge is shown above. Note that the new bridge then envisaged was downstream of the existing one (which would be retained). (Note that the map above has south at the top instead of the more usual north.)

In August 2020, Mains Road announced that the new bridge will be to the east (upstream) of the existing one, which will be almost entirely removed except for a token stub at the southern end.

Main Roads August 2020 Statement (part)

There are several engineering and operational constraints that mean the general alignment of the new structure needs to situated east of the current traffic bridge. Key factors include:

• new bridge must be built east of the existing bridge to enable parts of old structure to be retained and traffic to remain open during construction;
• there is insufficient space to fit a new, modern-standard structure between the existing road and rail bridges;
• the heritage-listed ferry capstan and current traffic bridge would be impacted by an alignment between the existing road and rail bridges;
• building west of the existing rail bridge would disrupt freight and passenger rail movements, as well as port operations, during the two-year construction phase;
•building west of the existing freight bridge would also require relocation of infrastructure such as Western Power's sub-station.

The bridge that Main Roads plan to build:

The following map (which has north at the top), put up on the Fremantle Society Facebook page on 5 June 2020 by Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan, contains a set of proposals for the replacement of the present Traffic Bridge, new train lines, and a realignment of the truck route to avoid the centre of North Fremantle. August 2020 update: according to Main Roads, none of this is going to happen.

Fremantle Society blog entry for 5 June 2020:

A Bridge Too Far?

The Fremantle Society last week broke the news that Main Roads are about to launch plans for a new bridge over the Swan River at Fremantle. We noted that over the years there has been, and still is, a great deal of support for the current heritage listed bridge, and last week the Fremantle Society resolved that the current bridge should be preserved at all costs. We do not want Fremantle Council caving in from their previous strong support for the WHOLE timber bridge, and nor do we want Main Roads saying that they cannot afford to keep and maintain it.

President John Dowson provides a virus free sketch (above) made when he was in primary school, and there must be plenty of people out there who also have a story to share .

Agnieshka Kiera, Fremantle Council Heritage Architect for 25 years, lets rip with her comments as below:

the historic Fremantle bridge has to stay. Not only for the reason of its heritage significance and, being listed on State Heritage, planning and compliance reasons. It should also stay for its greater importance to the city as the strategic urban feature and gateway to Fremantle, as follows:
since its construction the bridge has provided the vital pedestrian (and traffic) connection, not only between Fremantle and Perth but equally importantly between Fremantle and North Fremantle historic town centre;
while the main vehicular traffic connection to Perth has been taken over by the Stirling Bridge, the much-reduced traffic using the historic bridge has helped to keep the North Fremantle’s historic centre accessible and to date a viable local hub of commercial and social activity;
the bridge acts as an important entry point and gateway to Fremantle: on the approach to Fremantle by the bridge, the closed vista of Cantonment Hill and the Signal Station, the Fremantle Port to the right and Swan River to the left, all the iconic urban features and Fremantle icons, create an exceptional landscape setting, reinforcing the city’s identity as the historic landmark of Western Australia;
the proposed bridge could potentially relieve the historic bridge of the vehicular traffic altogether and let it act as the vital pedestrian/cyclist link with Fremantle proper. There are numerous very successful examples around the world of saving the historic bridges from demolition. And while building new bridges to take on the modern essential role of carrying the vehicular traffic, many cities conserved the old bridges utilising them for the ancillary (mainly pedestrian) purposes. The most famous examples include the Burt Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge on New York’s East River, Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Pont du Gard in France, Chenguyang Inmud and Rain Bridge in China etc. Each of them was replaced by a new bridge while being preserved for new functions. The same could be done in Fremantle, as freeing the Fremantle Bridge from vehicular traffic would facilitate its proper restoration as the pedestrian/cyclist bridge;
However, the plan in Brad Pettitt’s blog doesn’t show where the new bridge’s roadway goes. Would it go through the North Fremantle old centre? It looks very likely. Would this result in some massive demolitions of the heritage buildings on its way? That would be the death not only to the old bridge but to the North Fremantle historic centre as well. The Fremantle bridge’s traditional role as a gateway and the significant connection between North Fremantle and Fremantle proper via Queen Victoria Street would be destroyed. That is a devastating prospect and should be stopped.

In addition, I would like to clarify the broader issue regarding the increase in antisocial behaviour, theft and generally a major degradation to the Fremantle social fabric and economic viability.

The decade long push to abandon the previously measured and harmonious development of the city with heritage as its driver (as evident in the West End, Wray Avenue precinct, South Fremantle), and to replace it with this major disruption by the out of scale, developers’ driven, massive, inconsiderate, badly planned, badly designed and expensive developments in the heart of the city is, in my opinion, the main cause of the increase in crime in the city.

Any major change is disruptive. The long term businesses lose confidence in the strategic prospects. As the disruption continues, the community at large starts to lose the commitment to the city and each other (remember what has happened to Fremantle Markets? Fremantle Police? Fremantle Hospital?); thousands of local investors and businesses begin to feel uncertain about the future and where Fremantle is going; the loyalty and ethical behaviour towards the city and each other declines, and the ‘undesirables’ of all kinds begin to fill up the void.

They feel encouraged by the lack of social cohesion to move in and began to steal, grab and, generally make the city environment unsafe.

From: - Roel Looper's blog, 25 June 2020

Fremantle Community Wants New Bridge Involvement

A late item about the new Fremantle traffic bridge was added to last night’s Fremantle Council meeting agenda, on the initiative of Mayor Brad Pettitt. This is very important because Freo Council and the community need to be proactive on this, to make sure that we not only get an outstanding new bridge of great creative design, but also that the old heritage-listed bridge will be preserved for the community.

The community wants a significant say in this and at the very early stages of planning, because we don’t want this project delayed by being presented with plans that are finalised and not negotiable. The bridge will be a new entry statement into Fremantle and hence needs to be attractive, maybe even one tourists can climb on to and get great views of Fremantle Port and the Swan River, like the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

1. Welcomes the Federal and State funding commitment of $230m for the Swan River Crossing project, a project that will see major infrastructure delivered that will have an asset life in excess of 100 years;

2. Adopts the following principles to assist with the City’s analysis and feedback to Government as the project unfolds and develops:

1. PLANNING–That the State Government provides clarity around how this project supports the long-term strategic planning scenarios for the region and how transport planning is fully integrated within this, and specifically how options will address:
• the recommendations of the Westport Taskforce in relation to the future of the Inner Harbour of Fremantle Port;
• land use, traffic, freight and passenger rail planning options for the areas on the north and south of the proposed new crossing;

2. ALIGNMENT & CONNECTIONS – That the new bridge alignment(s) are optimised in terms of:
• long-term planning scenarios;
• uninterrupted flow / connectivity of the state’s Principle Shared Path (PSP) to Fremantle and North Fremantle Rail Stations.
• low-speed cycling and pedestrian connectivity and amenity;
• cultural heritage and place-making, in particular, impact on Fremantle Traffic Bridge.

3. DESIGN–That the Swan River Crossing demonstrates excellence in design – delivering infrastructure through a multi-discipline design process that celebrates contemporary bridge design and creates a memorable gateway experience and a place for people.

4. HERITAGE – That a significant portion of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge is preserved at both ends – especially on the southern end – and adapted in a manner that:
• retains pedestrian and cycling functions on its top deck;
• retains a section over Beach Street, including its abutment and architectural embellishments;
• is activated, connected and generates a destination for people on the foreshore;
• remains an asset of the State Government.

5. CULTURE–That the Aboriginal significance of this rivercrossing/ location is clearly understood, respected and interpreted in the design and deliverables. This could be a major component of the % for Art program associated with this project.

6. PUBLIC REALM & PLACE – That all public realm either created or modified by this project is safe, attractive, connected and inviting – with the potential to be extended and further connected with future riverside enhancements and developments – specifically, that increased curtilage is created in front of the Naval Stores building on Canning Highway to assist with activating this building and connection to foreshore.

3. Requests that MRWA commence community engagement as soon as possible, and that this engagement process includes a full and transparent evaluation of design options and bridge alignments that respond to the principles noted above;

4. Determines a final position on the various aspects of the Swan River Crossing in light of the comments and results that arise during the community engagement process.

From the Mayor's Blog, 26 June 2020:
Community input crucial to design of new Fremantle Traffic Bridge

Fremantle Council is urging the state government to ensure the local community is properly consulted on the design of the replacement Fremantle Traffic Bridge.
The state and federal governments committed matching funding to the $230 million 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.
The new bridge provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver an iconic infrastructure project in Fremantle.
The City of Fremantle has been advocating for the replacement of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge for many years, so we welcome the investment by the state and federal governments in this much needed new infrastructure.
The traffic bridge is a critical gateway into Fremantle so we want to ensure that the design of the new bridge is befitting of its prominent location and that the overall project helps to improve the connectivity between North Fremantle, Cantonment Hill, Victoria Quay and the river foreshore.
The City of Fremantle is already receiving significant community correspondence on this project and it’s important we get this right, which is why we’re encouraging the state government to consult widely with the local community and listen to what they have to say.
At a meeting on Wednesday, Fremantle Council voted to request that Main Roads WA commence community engagement on the new bridge as soon as possible, and that this engagement process include a full and transparent 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:

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.

The character of the North Fremantle townsite is protected from additional traffic impacts and extended towards the river.

The project should deliver uninterrupted connectivity of the PSP cycle path to Fremantle and North Fremantle rail stations.

A significant portion of the existing heritage-listed Fremantle Traffic Bridge is preserved, especially at the southern end, and able to be used and activated.

The significance of the location to Traditional Owners is clearly understood, respected and interpreted in the design.

We understand the community concern and the complex issues regarding this major project and we expect an open and transparent community engagement process from Main Roads WA.
While the council will reserve its final decision until after the consultation process is complete, the principles we have adopted provide a very clear message about what we see as integral to the project’s success.
The existing Fremantle Traffic Bridge was officially opened on 15 December 1939 and was originally designed as a temporary structure.
It was temporarily closed in 2016 after erosion around its pylons made it unstable.

From Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan in Facebook 6 June 2020:

The Fremantle Traffic Bridge was built in 1939 as a temporary structure that was supposed to last just five years. The plan at the time was to expand the port further east and so the bridge would soon need to be relocated. Presumably the expansion never went ahead because of WWII, and then the subsequent rapid advances that were made in both shipping and cargo handling in the post war period.
The rail bridge we see today was opened in 1960 as a replacement for the original rail bridge that was 350 metres to the west. The new bridge was positioned to the east as part of plans to build the very first container berth in Australia. The new bridge was just one part of a significant re-alignment of the rail corridor through North Fremantle that also included new bridges over the soon to be widened Tydeman Road.
Bridge building in Fremantle has always been an integral part of the ongoing development of the port city. Their placement locks in how the areas around them are used and developed for decades to come. Hence, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to get this right!!
The current process aims to deliver new road and rail bridges to last 100 years. Unlike in the past, there has been no strategic planning review to guide how best to deliver this quarter billion dollars worth of new infrastructure.
The new bridges are proposed to be jammed in between the rail bridge and the Northbank development. This will be an absurdly tight squeeze, and inherently ugly. More critically, it will lock in regional transport routes in a way that will destroy the beautiful North Fremantle town centre that has only just been brought back to life. It also does nothing to facilitate the massive development opportunities that exist, ones that would open up our river foreshores for all to enjoy.
Bridges should bring communities together, not divide and destroy them. We need our government to pause for a moment, to rethink this, and to ensure these new structures are located so as to truly deliver community and land use benefits either side of the river.

... the Stock Rd bridge was in the earliest plans produced by Stephenson and Hepburn in the 1950s, but was politically unpalatable. Logically, the idea was to introduce a third crossing point over the Swan River. It was to connected Pt Walter to Pt Resolution being the narrowest point mid-way along the massive estuary between Perth and Fremantle. When those plans were scrapped to protect Dalkeith and Nedlands, it pretty much meant the only way to get north-south other than via the freeway would be through North Fremantle. When Stirling Bridge was built it dissected the North Fremantle community from its historic town centre.

From the Fremantle Herald, 24 July 2020:

A Bridge Too Far?

Checking through our archives we came across this 2003 plan for a new bridge … just sayin’.

MAIN ROADS appears to have poured cold water on suggestions it might retain Fremantle’s old traffic bridge as a pedestrian crossing.
The bridge’s replacement has been brought forward as a Covid-stimulus project, but the department has released little information about what’s proposed.
When the Chook asked for the latest update, strategy and communications director Dean Roberts said the state government had already spoken with stakeholders and was organising a community consultation.
But he did also provide this little snippet which suggests pedestrian access across the river will be focussed on the new structure.
“In addition to replacing the current, ageing traffic bridge, the project will also include a new passenger rail bridge and a new path for people walking and riding from North Fremantle station, over Tydeman Road to the new bridge and across the Swan River to Beach Street,” Mr Roberts said.
DesignFreo is a newly created, not-for-profit organisation which has chosen the fate of the old bridge and design of the new as the topic for its first public forum.
DesignFreo chair and creative director Pippa Hurst said they aimed to hold regular talks, exhibitions and hands-on workshops to create opportunities for design professionals to share what they do, and why it matters, with the general public.
“We believe that by building a sense of pride in the quality of design in our city we can contribute to a better future for the town we call home,” she said.
With little information currently in the public realm, Ms Hurst says DesignFreo hasn’t developed a stance on the bridge project.
“Our intent is to have a respectful conversation that brings multiple perspectives and voices to the table,” Ms Hurst said.
Such voices will include community development experts, urban designers and researchers as well as local MLA Simone McGurk.
“We are advocating for a quality co-design outcome that serves the needs of our present and future community,” Ms Hurst said.
The DesignFreo conversation will take place at Tannock Hall, Cliff Street, Fremantle at 6.30pm on Thursday 30 July. Tickets are $5 through Eventbrite. (Kristen Ricciardi)


An important forum about the planned new Fremantle traffic bridge will be held by DesignFreo on July 30 in the Tannock Hall of Notre Dame University 6.30-8pm.
It is the first event organised by the new DesignFreo group titled Conversation 01 - Old Bridge / New Bridge. The event will explore the complex issues around the replacement of the ageing Fremantle Traffic Bridge. A panel discussion, facilitated by Meri Fatin and featuring local experts, will be followed by a Q&A session.
The fate of the old bridge and the design of the new are important decisions that will impact on our communities for decades to come. Ahead of Main Roads going out for public consultation, the panel will explore the following issues:
Can we save the old bridge, which is on the State Heritage Register, and repurpose it into something for community use?
If so, what could that look like? Precedents include the High Line in New York and Seoullo 7017, Seoul.
The new bridge is an opportunity to create something with design merit - how do we ensure we get the best design outcome?
What consideration has been given to the land uses at each end of the bridge – Cantonment Hill and the North Freo town centre? This project has the potential to open up and enhance these key hubs, and to recognise their Indigenous cultural significance.
With the Westport process underway, would knowing that a second harbour is to be built in Kwinana open up opportunities to rethink the location of the new bridge? For example, should it be pushed further west, into the current active port zone?
Panel members:
Rebecca Clarkson, Community Development Expert and instigator of the campaign to retain the old bridge as a public space;
Russell Kingdom, Urban Designer (Manager - City Design and Projects, City of Fremantle);
Dr Anthony Duckworth-Smith, Research Fellow, Australian Urban Design Research Centre;
Brendan Moore, Aboriginal Engagement Officer, City of Fremantle.
Main Roads has been invited to participate, but not confirmed at this stage.
Date: Thursday 30 July
Venue: Tannock Hall, Mouat Street, Fremantle
Time: 6pm for 6.30 – 8pm
Tickets: Book your complimentary media tickets using this link

The bridge that Main Roads plan to build:

This plan was in a snailmailout from Main Roads that I found in my postbox in early August 2020, so you probably got one too. It shows that the new bridge would be just a little to the east of the wooden one, would align with the same main road through North Fremantle, and would run into the same cliff face as the existing one on the Fremantle side, requiring road traffic to turn abruptly left or right as at present, in front of the 'heritage' shed.
A token thirty metres of the wooden bridge will be retained and will probably have yet another cafe/bar on it.
Information about the project, and a much larger copy of the plan are available on a page on the Main Roads website.

This photo (15Aug2020) might give some idea why some North residents are worried about the location of the new bridge. It will land right in the middle of the snap, between the existing bridge and the condo on the right, apparently only four metres from apartments.

The Mayor's comment on the Mains Roads published plan

from his blog, 20 August 2020

A better bridge is possible

Finally the state government has gone public on it new Fremantle bridge design and it's … well … not great.

One of the things they are trying to tell us is their planned bridge alignment and design is the ONLY design possible – the only one that could possibly be built.

Well that is not true. It is not the only possible design and it is certainly not the best one. In fact it is hard to imagine a worse outcome on a number of levels.

1. The new traffic bridge is in a problematic location. Built upriver of the current bridge this means on its north bank it will be unacceptably close to homes in North Fremantle. There will also be a loss of green space and parking for those using the river and bridge for fishing. On the south side the only green space within the City of Fremantle on the South side of the Swan River connected to the water will be lost. N. Worrall Park will be no more. Mainroads is saying that there will be a new green space located between the two bridges. Putting aside who wants to picnic jammed between the underbelly of a rail and road bridge, this steep largely unusable location will have no access to the water as the port pilot boats park there and there is no plan to move them.

2. The project will almost totally demolish the state heritage listed old bridge. The plan is for little of this structure to remain. On the north bank it will disappear entirely. On the south side, it will be chopped off above Beach Street on one end and chopped off only few metres over the water on the other. It won’t look like a bridge, read like a bridge or be able to be used like a bridge. It will look like a random collection of sticks with little heritage relevance. The City of Fremantle won’t take on it ownership if offered in this limited form as it will be nothing but a liability for ratepayers. There is a better option as we highlighted before resuming far more of the bridge as Fremantle High Line. That would be a real asset.

3. A circuitous principal shared bike path (PSP) that doesn’t make it all the way to Fremantle and stops randomly behind some bus stops with no clear route in to Fremantle. Where else in any WA transport network is this poor planning allowed to happen? This bridge project work needs to align with planning for a PSP that finally finishes this key route direct from the Fremantle centre to the Perth centre. A new bridge may work against this is just poor planning and investment.

4. An unattractive new bridge. The new bridge won’t be beautiful or iconic. It will look like every other concrete bridge in Perth. Think Mount Henry, the Narrows, Stirling etc. A cheap and functional replacement. We only get to build a new bridge west of the Perth CBD once in a generation and it shouldn’t be a rushed cheap job. But that is what we are getting.

5. Further loss of Navy Store forecourt. The heritage listed navy store has had its forecourt eaten away by expanding roads and a bridge in the proposed eastern location will only exacerbate this making this potentially great community space less usable. If the bridge was built further down river it would have enable the Navy Store’s forecourt to be reinstated.

While this may seem a bit depressing, it needn’t be. There are design outcomes that can address all of the above issues in a far better way. We just need Mainroads and the state government to slow down, consult properly with the Fremantle community (rather than try and sell a dud which they are currently doing).

I will follow this post up with a range of possible solutions and options for each of the issues above. We would love your feedback on this as we go forward as the Fremantle community deserve a real say.

The Mayor's blog continued, 25 August 2020
A Better Bridge is Possible (Part 2): A bridge in the wrong location

The new traffic bridge is in the wrong location.

North Side Impacts

Built upriver/East of the current bridge this means on its north bank it will be unacceptably close to homes in North Fremantle. 

I am told it could be as close a 4m from people balconies as the new traffic bridge takes out green space and parking for those using the river and bridge for fishing.

Mainroads argument for doing this is there is only 30m between the old traffic bridge and existing rail bridge on the North side which they claim is not enough room.

Let's break this claim down.

While the 30m figure is correct Mainroads they fail to mention is that there is also only about 30m on the other side between the housing and old traffic bridge. So the space available on the north side at the east and west locations is roughly equal.

What can kind of bridge can you fit into a 30m gap? As the illustration below show you can fit bridge with a footpath, one side, bike and footpath the other (more than what Mainroads are proposing), four lanes of traffic and a medium into only 20.6 m. This bridge is easily wider than the current bridge which in only about 17m but easily fits.

South Side Impacts

What are the impacts of an eastern alignment for the bridge south of the river? For a start, the only green space within the City of Fremantle on the South side of the Swan River connected to the water will be lost. N Worrall Park will be no more. 

Mainroads is saying that there will be a new green space located between the two bridges. Putting aside who wants to picnic jammed between the underbelly of a rail and road bridge, this steep, largely unusable location will have no access to the water as the port pilot boats park on this section and there is no plan to move them.

The other implication is the bridge will further impact on the forecourt of the historic Navy Store which has had its forecourt eaten away by expanding roads.

A bridge in the proposed eastern location will only exacerbate this making this potentially great community space less usable. If the bridge was built further down river it would have enable the Navy Store’s forecourt to be reinstated and this building to better connect to Cantonment Hill and river.

Why this location?

When this project was announced this is also clearly where the Minister expected it to go to the west in between the two bridges.

So why isn’t it to the west as planned?

This change of direction by Mainroads is a bit long and complex but is largely driven by the state government belatedly planning to build a new dual track passenger rail bridge to the east of the existing rail bridge. This is despite the current rail bridge having between 40-60 years of life left in it yet.

But didn’t the original press release say they were going to build a dedicated freight line, not two new passenger lines? Yes it did and frankly this is what they should go back to.

If you built a single freight line on the Freo Port side and there would be plenty of room for the new traffic bridge to move back west between the two bridges.

Mainroads don’t like this because the gentler gradients freight requires means the ramps each side are longer than new passenger line ramps.  Instead they want to continue to run freight on a passenger rail bridge that was not built for this purpose. Not only will this mean ongoing excess noise and rail wheel squeal but it has the flow on consequences of pushing all the other new bridges up stream with all the poor impacts on residents and community.

A better bridge outcome is possible.

The Mayor's blog continued, 8 September 2020

A Better Bridge is Possible (Part 3): better heritage outcomes

What could the old bridge become?

It has long been the City of Fremantle position that the old state heritage-listed bridge should not just be demolished but instead turned into something special.

In the Freo 2029 Transformational Moves report it was envisaged that there was a “unique opportunities to retain and re-use all or parts of the existing bridge structure for use by pedestrians and cyclists. Not only could access across the river for pedestrians and cyclists be significantly improved, the bridge could also become a major public space in itself, providing lookout places and seating and could even accommodate community activities such as markets.”

Under the current MRWA plans, however, the old bridge is likely to disappear. They are proposing leaving a small section of bridge 19m over the water but not connected to the road side or water side to anything.

While this wasn’t clear in the materials they have put on line or posted to Fremantle household it could be seen on the more detailed drawing at the Mainroads open days.

Sadly this remanent won’t read as a bridge anymore but as some undefined structure. It is also not clear what this small remnant might be used for and heritage without a use is in danger of becoming a liability. It certainly isn’t something that the City of Fremantle will take on. I fear that as a result we may see the bridge disappear entirely with the exception of a few sticks in the water as happened with the historic Mandurah bridge.

 It needs to be remembered that this old bridge is a state listed heritage asset. The Fremantle Society has described it as the longest wooden bridge in WA. It is an intricate and interesting structure that should be retained as fully as possible.

A better heritage outcome is possible with some innovative thinking.

That said, I do accept that it may not be able to be fully retained as there are some issues around safe navigation of boats underneath but it is unacceptable that so little of it, just on one side of the river, is proposed to be retained.    

Perhaps the middle section could be opened up (not much of this is original anyway) to improve navigation but the bridge itself is still a great pedestrian space.

There are many good examples of this kind of retrofitting internationally.

Like the old Fremantle Traffic Bridge, New York’s High Line was once destined for demolition. Luckily, the community rallied together to repurpose it instead, creating a 2.3km long linear park. Since opening in 2009, the High Line has become an icon of contemporary landscape architecture and a global inspiration for cities to transform unused industrial zones into dynamic public spaces.

Less well known is Seoullo 7017 which is an elevated, linear park in Seoul, built atop a former 1970s highway overpass. The path, which opened in 2017 is about one kilometre in length and lined with 24,000 plants.

A better old bridge outcome is possible too.

Roel Loopers blog 26 August 2020

A Troubled New Fremantle Bridge

Unless there is massive community protest against the proposed new Fremantle traffic bridge we will end up with a mediocre bridge in the wrong location, instead of an iconic new gateway to our port city in a more appropriate location, that is more considerate to the residents of North Fremantle. That is the feeling I got on Tuesday evening at the North Fremantle community meeting about it.

Neither Mayor Brad Pettitt, nor Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan were confident that Main Roads would listen, because they had already ignored Fremantle Council, with Pettitt saying only community pressure on the state government might be able to have an impact and pause Main Roads from making the wrong decisions.

It was apt that the community was welcomed into the community hall with the song Bridge Over Troubled Waters, because the Main Roads option is wrong, not acceptable, and will kill the cute North Fremantle town centre, that would be strangled by major roads on three sides.

Andrew Sullivan's presentation was very good, looking at more than just the new bridge, but focusing on what impact it will have on the future of freight and traffic, with a four-lane Port Beach Road and Curtin Avenue and a six-lane Stirling Highway. 'Main Roads have a dream for a coastal freeway.'

Brad Pettitt said the bridge would be a legacy for over 100 years for a very poor outcome. Main Roads needs to put multiple options on the table!

There is the need for the state government to do a quick strategic planning review because things have changed in the last five years. Press the pause button, so that the community have a say, Sullivan said. When you have options you get better outcomes.

Looking at the plan, which is the only option given to the community, one has to wonder if the Environmental Protection Authority would really approve a bridge that will pass by balconies in North Fremantle by only five metres. It would be a nightmare of noise and dust and diesel fumes for those poor residents.

The 'option' Main Roads is going to force down our throats is a terrible proposal of lazy design by a state department that just can't be bothered to look at better solutions. This is the quick, easy and ugly fix by a government in a hurry to take advantage of the desperate need for jobs and the desire for the Covid Recovery Plan to succeed. That is all good and well intention, but not at the cost of Fremantle. We deserve and demand better that what is being presented as a done deal to us!

Roel Loopers

Swan River Crossings/Fremantle Traffic Bridge: Submission
Ian Ker


The process to-date has proceeded without any effective community input, despite Main Roads own policy with respect to reference groups.
The future process envisaged does not have any meaningful community input to (let alone representation on) the proposed working groups.
Involving the community only after key decisions have been made will result in resentment and continual revisiting of those decisions rather than moving on with the project.
The project has not taken adequate account of the Westport Future Port Recommendations, which cast severe doubt on the need or justification for freight rail upgrade to the existing container terminal.
Building a new rail bridge for port traffic that will cease in the foreseeable and planned future will leave a redundant rail bridge that can only be used as a very expensive hand-me-down cycle/pedestrian bridge not designed for that purpose.
Without the perceived need to construct a new rail bridge to the east of the existing one, a new road bridge between the existing traffic bridge and rail bridge becomes feasible.
The existing traffic bridge is an important component of the history of river crossings and should be part of the ‘gateway’ to Fremantle.
If the existing traffic bridge is retained, it can provide a range of access (pedestrian/cyclist) and community (public space) functions.
If the existing traffic bridge cannot be retained in its entirety, elements should be kept on both the northern and southern shores so that the linkage and function is readily identifiable. The visible history of fixed river crossings is also (only) on the northern shore.
If the existing traffic bridge cannot be retained in its entirety, a high-quality, well-designed cycle pedestrian bridge could be built to link the two ends and retain the access function.
Any new cycle/pedestrian bridge should be designed with aboriginal and other heritage as context – as has been done with the proposed new bridge to replace the cycle/pedestrian access on the Causeway in Perth.
Planning and design of any new bridge must reflect the physical, historical and cultural context. This applies as much to the location as to the detailed design and should include interpretative elements.
Specifically, any new bridge(s) must not destroy or prevent appreciation of historical elements of previous bridges.
Whatever the specific planning and design outcomes, the project should include active heritage interpretation using technology such as computer simulations. Such a centre could be run in conjunction with one or more North Fremantle businesses.
Without a new rail bridge to the east of the existing rail bridge, there is space to build the replacement road bridge between the two existing bridges.

The Mayor's blog continued, 14 September 2020

A Better Bridge is Possible for Pedestrians and Cyclists (Part 4)

Another key aspect of this project where there is plenty of room for improvement is outcomes for pedestrians and cyclists.

From a cycling perspective, this river crossing is a vital piece of the puzzle – finally connecting Fremantle to Perth with a principal shared path but this projects doesn’t succeed in doing this well.

First, the proposed shared path does not take the most direct and logical path into Fremantle, which would be along the rail bridge. Instead it diverts east to the traffic bridge taking cyclists up river from where they want to go.

Furthermore, despite their graphic giving the impression that the principal shared path will connect further south to Fremantle CBD, the proposed path.

Also on the south side the bridge offers little room for pedestrian to access the historic Nay Store. On the north side of the river from a pedestrian perspective there is an opportunity to link the shared path on the bridge to the shared path in front of Northbank apartments without pedestrians needing to cross traffic. But there is no indication the project will do this either.

City of Fremantle staff have been arguing there is a case for a footpath both side of the bridge which I fully support. As the diagram below [above] shows you can fit all this into a design with a width of around 22 metres.

We also need to ensure that the pedestrian and cycling space is at the same level as vehicles so that there is good passive surveillance. The idea of cyclists and pedestrian been hidden out of sight from the road like the Mount Henry or even new Mandurah Bridge is not desirable but this is what is currently being proposed. Not a place you would want be a young woman, late at night.

Essentially, the aim should be for a low speed, integrated design that understands the value and complexity of the interfaces between road, cycleway and footpath – not a freeway inspired design that seeks to separate these with a resulting poor urban amenity outcome.

Multi-modal bridges like the Westminster bridge offer a good way forward on this. A better bridge is possible.

References and Links

Fremantle Society, Fremantle Traffic Bridge, campaign page.

Fremantle Society blog, 'Bridge of Broken Promises', 25 May 2020.

Fremantle Society blog, 'A Bridge Too Far', 5 June 2020.

Pettitt, Brad, 2019, The mayor's blog entry welcoming the bridge funding commitment, 28 March: 'Our plan is for a new bridge to be built between the existing traffic bridge and the rail bridge, and to convert the old bridge into a pedestrian and cycleway.'

Ricciardi, Kristen 2020, 'A Bridge Too Far?', Fremantle Herald, 24 July.

Main Roads website, showing where the new bridge would be built.

Engineering Heritage Panel, Swan & Canning Rivers Bridges: Australian Engineering Week Tour 2009.

'New Fremantle Traffic Bridge funded in State Budget', govt media statement, 22 April 2019.

Garry Gillard | New: 27 June, 2020 | Now: 14 September, 2020