Here’s My Bridge Option 5

In this Opinion Piece, Ralph Hoare, a Fremantle Architect and former Fremantle Society President, considers what an Option 5 for the replacement of the Old Traffic Bridge – which is currently not on offer – might look like.

The debate over a replacement for the Old Traffic Bridge continues apace, as this recent long read article by Michael Barker, the editor of the Shipping News explains.

While the Fremantle Bridges Alliance, which includes Main Roads WA, has offered Fremantle people Options 1-4, there remains much disappointment about each and a strong demand for an Option 5.

Various ideas for a fifth option have been circulating on social media.

Here’s mine.

What I would like is a 4-lane road traffic bridge between the existing 2 bridges and a railway bridge with 1 or 2 tracks on the Port side of the existing railway bridge. Easy!
The new road traffic bridge would not have bicycle or pedestrian access. These functions would be accommodated on the existing timber traffic bridge.

I would be happy to see some modification to the existing road traffic bridge to better align the water access routes for river boats. This section of the current road traffic bridge is not as originally built and therefore is not ‘heritage’ to the same extent as the rest of the existing road bridge. There are currently steel bridge beams not timber beams over the water transport lanes!
If you look at the graphics for the Alliance’s Option 1 below, you can see that the new traffic bridge is drawn wider than the existing traffic bridge. By removing the bicycle and pedestrian functions a narrower bridge would result. In my view, there is enough room on the north side for such a bridge to land between the existing rail bridge and the existing road bridge.

The new rail bridge, if it is really needed, could be constructed just to the west of the existing railway bridge over and on top of the newish landings built to protect the railway bridge from Port activities. The port would not lose a berth.
The issue has been made difficult by the need to build two bridges – a new traffic bridge and a second rail bridge – not one.

I don’t believe the State Government realised this when they started the process. Their propaganda only showed 1 bridge. A rail bridge must be built basically flat or level. The road bridge is not level, it is higher on the south side than the north side. You can’t marry a flat bridge and a sloping bridge!

I don’t know if the new rail bridge was required by the State or the Federal Government as part of the funding package. But whoever proposed it, has caused all the problems.
If the new rail bridge was dropped we could just build the narrower Option 1 bridge that I have described above.
If the new rail bridge is really needed, given that the port is apparently moving to Kwinana, then building to the west of the existing rail bridge over the newish landings would provide separated public transport and rail freight lines as apparently needed.

* This article was written by Ralph Hoare a Fremantle Architect and former Fremantle Society President