The WA Liberal party is pushing on with the Perth Freight Link, promising to build the five kilometre Roe 9 project, including a tunnel, if re-elected in March despite Labor vowing to dump the entire plan.
The three kilometre twin tunnel would run under homes from Winterfold Road to High Street, with construction on Roe 9 beginning in 2020 as the controversial Roe 8 nears completion.
But work is yet to be done on the exact design of the tunnel and the final stage of the Perth Freight Link will not happen for another decade.
Premier Colin Barnett said a tunnel was the most direct route, offered better value for money than a surface route, minimised the impact on homes and was more productive for the freight industry.
“The tunnel option will run from the Stock and Winterfold Roads intersection in Hilton through to High Street, East Fremantle with grade separations at both High Street and Marmion Street then connecting to Stirling Highway,” he said.
Mr Barnett said Roe 8 and 9 would remove almost 7000 trucks from suburban roads, allow road users to bypass 14 traffic lights and ensure a safer journey to Fremantle.
Transport Minister Bill Marmion said Roe 9 would create 1900 direct jobs with a total on-site workforce of up to 6640 during construction.
The state government would commit $181 million to the $903 million project while the Commonwealth would fund the rest.
Mr Marmion said the Roe 9 route would be subject to a strict environmental approval process, which could take up to 18 months.
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan previously vowed to scrap the “deeply flawed” $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link if his party won the election on March 11.
He told reporters on Sunday that the state government was “making it up as they go along”.
“They have no credibility and no long-term plan. This is blowing $2 billion on a road to nowhere that doesn’t fix the problem,” he said.
“Mr Barnett has been all over the place on this project, he’s flipped and he’s flopped and he’s flipped and flopped again.”
Former transport minister Dean Nalder had backed the tunnel option to avoid demolishing homes but Mr Barnett instead shelved the plan, citing its expense and complexity, before a deal was struck with the Commonwealth.
But the Greens’ Lynn MacLaren said WA would not receive federal funding for Roe 8 until a business plan was released for Roe 9.
“This plan will cause traffic chaos at North Fremantle,” she said.
“Mr Barnett is exposing himself to voter backlash from his own electorate with his decide-announce-defend ad hoc policy on-the-run approach.”
Roe 8 has been subject to a legal battle involving the Save Beeliar Wetlands group, while other protesters have been causing disruptions to the land clearing by chaining themselves to machinery and pushing fences down.
There has been a strong police presence at the site every day and some protesters have been arrested or issued with move-on notices.