Bring it on

CEO Update
There are only so many patch jobs that will keep a hardworking 79 year old together, so it was great news this morning to read that Infrastructure Australia (IA) had added the Fremantle Traffic Bridge to its priority initiatives list.

Adding it to the list was the first big step. The next is to address the risk of closure and then deliver a new crossing of the Swan River. The IA report indicates that “closure of the bridge, without replacement, would substantially increase demand pressure on the Stirling Bridge, which would worsen travel times, reduce the resilience of the road network and impact heavy freight road access to the port.”

What they forgot to include in that paragraph was that closure of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge, to rely only on Stirling Bridge, would be an economic disaster for our City. The Fremantle Traffic Bridge is our CBD gateway from the western suburbs. Stirling Bridge is but a bypass opportunity.  The harder we make it for people to get into the City centre the less people will come.  We know that it is hard now, imagine life without the bridge. So, from here on in, let’s make sure it remains a bridge to Fremantle.

In 2011 there was extensive consultation between Main Roads, the City of Fremantle, and other South West Group members (yep – we still have the dusty file). Let’s hope what happens next doesn’t languish as long.   A whole host of people (Federal, State and Local representatives) have kept it in the mix across a time when the powers that be didn’t give a damn.  Well done.

Just looking back to the 2011 files on the Bridge consultation is a reminder of how Fremantle infrastructure discussions can come to feel a little repetitive. The Victoria Quay conservation has recommenced and strangely there are some that think the development of Kings Square is still up for debate.

Civic building, turf, square, triangle? The time for debate on what should be within Fremantle’s Kings Square came to an end a long time ago. There should be no cause for pause. 

Even now, the Sirona Capital constructions at the Myer’s and Queensgate sites, already give a great sense of future. It is exciting.  It is also exciting that there will be beautiful, contemporary spaces for essentials like the library, visitors centre, meetings spaces and other community facilities.  

Our CBD business precinct has been doing it hard for more than fifteen years, with the major investment seeming to be primarily from business operators just trying to keep their doors open.  Every week people disparagingly reference the current state of the look and atmosphere of the central CBD.  We need this investment by the City to create a place that people can be proud to go to and connect with. May the build begin.

PS. Long infrastructure time frames are not just a Fremantle thing. The new Museum of WA project in Northbridge has been at least a 16-year process from business case start to a multistory construction site. We should be thankful the redevelopment of Kings Square may only take half that time.

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