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Swan River Crossings Updates and Video

UPDATE // 16 September // Better Bridge Campaign Website launched – pause the bridge!

A packed Town Hall event last week organised by the Fremantle Shipping News indicates that community interest in the bridge issue is gaining momentum.

The Better Bridge Campaign website is now live and is a centralised space for information and action. The Campaign calls on Main Roads WA and the State Government to pause the current planning for the replacement of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge and start again with meaningful community consultation. Visit the website for information on what you can do to get involved.

DesignFreo agrees that we need to hold off on this project. Values have shifted – we now understand that a cars-first / people-second / nature-third mentality does not make great places, and that ‘value’ should not be measured purely in economic terms. ⁠We question the alignment proposed by Main Roads for the Swan River Crossing. What is driving the decision? We want greater transparency, more data and wider consultation, to ensure that we get a result that respects our river, land and communities.

Keep an eye out for postcards – there are some at Kate and Abel in Market Street – that can be posted to Premier Mark McGowan, Rita Saffioti (Minister for Transport), Simone McGurk (Member for Fremantle) and Lisa O’Malley (Member for Bicton) asking them to pause the project. With an election looming, we need to speak loud and clear.

Visit the Main Roads Swan River Crossings page here, and complete the Main Roads survey here.

UPDATE // 26 August // Better Bridges Community Consortium launches

With Main Roads releasing their underwhelming plan for the new Swan River Crossings, the community is shifting into gear to demand a better outcome.

Over the next 3 months, the Better Bridge Community Consortium will mount a campaign to challenge the State Government. Please visit the chuffed.org page for all the information – chip in or volunteer if you can, and please encourage other community members to get involved. This is the biggest issue currently affecting the future of our town and we all need to speak up for Fremantle.

Fremantle Shipping News is hosting a Town Hall discussion on September 10 – details here

For more information and to get involved

Visit the Main Roads Swan River Crossings page here.

Complete the Main Roads survey here.

Main Roads is holding community drop-in sessions on Monday 17 August, Saturday 29 August and Wednesday 2 September. Register to attend here

See the Main Roads press release here

Sign up here to receive updates from Main Roads about the project – let them know we care and we’re not going to settle for mediocrity

See the change.org petition to save the old bridge here.

UPDATE // 6 August // Main Roads commence consultation

On August 6, exactly a week after our event, Main Roads announced that community consultation on the Swan River Crossing has now commenced. Fremantle Council immediately responded with disappointment at the process. Mayor Brad Pettitt reports in his blog:

‘Unfortunately the bridge plans released today appear not to meet the Fremantle Council – and I expect, community view – that there be at least two distinctly different alignment options presented in full for community and Council consideration.’

Brad Pettitt / Blog Post

Panel member Rebecca Clarkson believes the plans, which locate the bridge to the east of the current bridge, offer the worst possible outcome. She suggests that key decisions have already been made for short-sighted reasons.

Now is the time to leap into action! We encourage everyone to have input into this city-shaping project. Meaningful community consultation should respond to the voices of all users and in particular those of Traditional Owners. Make sure your voice is heard – Fremantle demands great design!

‘I think design has the opportunity here to be a lot bolder and if anywhere can do it it should be Fremantle’

Russell Kingdom, DesignFreo Conversation 01, July 30

DesignFreo Conversation01 / 30 July, Tannock Hall

A big thank you to all who came to DesignFreo Conversation 01: Old Bridge / New Bridge last week, for what was a lively and insightful discussion. A great panel and audience came together to explore the questions we need to be asking Main Roads to ensure we get a bridge that serves people and place as well as cars.

With numbers limited due to Covid restrictions, the event was sold out and many were disappointed to miss out. We’re pleased to provide here a full video for all to view. Please share!

A summary of Conversation 01

With no information available from Main Roads, the discussion on July 30 at Tannock Hall focused on exploring what would constitute a good design outcome. 

Our panel of experts shared their knowledge and perspectives, emphasising the critical role of community consultation as part of the design process. The conversation provided a framework for the questions that need to be asked now that consultation has opened.

The common thread was the importance of a connected public realm that serves more than just cars. Recognising and respecting the significance of the Derbarl Yirragan (the Swan River) and Dwerda Weeardinup (Cantonment Hill) to the Whadjuk Noongar people should inform the design outcome.

Rebecca Clarkson provided a compelling argument for retaining the existing bridge as a public space, in a similar vein to New York’s acclaimed High Line. In a first for WA, the old bridge would become a green space for pedestrians and cyclists, allowing safe movement between north and south and a new way to enjoy the port and river. Rebecca’s campaign to retain the old bridge is on change.org here.

Russell Kingdom confirmed that retaining as much of the existing bridge as possible was the Council’s default position, however the complete lack of data from Main Roads made any assessment of the options impossible. Access to the foreshore needs to be improved as part of the project.

Brendan Moore relayed the significance of the Derbarl Yirragan and Dwerda Weeardinup as Aboriginal sites, recognising the historical distinction between Yellagonga’s north and Midgegooroo’s south. He  emphasised that the river is to be enjoyed and cared for, noting the belief that the pylons of the current bridge impede the flow of the Waugal.

Anthony Duckworth-Smith reiterated the importance of the public realm, suggesting that dignity and generosity towards people should be given precedence over vehicles. The existing conditions are hostile to pedestrians and cyclists – a holistic approach to the entire precinct is critical.

‘It doesn’t need to be something heroic – simply to make it incredibly well connected and a dignified experience might be enough, and say Freo more than anything’

Anthony Duckworth-Smith

Simone McGurk reiterated that the lack of information from Main Roads was inflaming community concern, making any specific discussion around the design impossible. She committed to doing whatever she can to ensure that the community’s voice is heard in the design of the new bridge.

We gratefully acknowledge the time and insights of all panellists and thank Meri Fatin for a great job in facilitating the conversation. Thanks to The School of Arts and Sciences at The University of Notre Dame for the video, and event partners the Fremantle School of Architecture and the Old Bridge Cellars.