COCKBURN councillor Steve Portelli has joined with Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey to highlight the additional congestion and environmental consequences of shelving Roe 8, believing his own council is ignoring the findings of a traffic study which point toward a need for the road.
An independent traffic study commissioned by the City of Cockburn forecasts 35 stretches of road will need to be widened by 2031 to cope with the increase in daily vehicle movements in both Melville and Cockburn if Roe 8 is not built.
“It has got to the stage now that I am so frustrated and disappointed with the stalling of Roe 8 that I had to speak to someone that is for it,” Cr Portelli said.
“We have to get a strategy together and get the word out there because the community has been misled.
“Roe 8 is not just about diverting traffic away from South Street and Leach Highway but also from Cockburn’s east-west linking roads such as Farrington Road, Bibra Drive, Berrigan Drive, Russell Road, North Lake Road and Beeliar Drive.
“Close to 80,000 daily traffic movements will be taken away from those roads and out of our residential suburbs.”
Both Cr Aubrey and Cr Portelli believe that constructing a new outer harbour in Cockburn Sound, the alternative preferred by Cockburn council, will prove more environmentally damaging than Roe 8 itself.
“When you look at the impact on the environmental areas surrounding the roads that would need to be widened – and take into account the impact on the houses that abut those roads – you see that the aggregated environmental cost of not building Roe Highway is far greater than the cost of building it,” Cr Aubrey said.
“On top of that, residents will be stuck in congested traffic in perpetuity with no other viable of getting out of the situation.
“Certainly building the outer harbour will alleviate the trucks which is dangerous traffic to be mixed with light traffic but the fact is what we are looking at is getting 80,000 vehicles off our roads altogether with the construction of Roe Highway compared to just 5000 trucks that would be moved to the outer harbour.”
Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said Mr Portelli was entitled to his view but argued Roe 8 had been opposed by Cockburn Council for 15 years because of its adverse impacts on the environment and the level of noise and air pollution from freight trucks moving through established communities.
“Traffic reports, like any study commissioned by the City, are never ignored,” he said.
“The traffic study in question is a prediction of traffic movements and numbers for both the situation of the Roe 8 extension being constructed or not being constructed, and is open to interpretation on the impacts of such.
Mr Howlett said the City, along with other local governments, the community and other stakeholders, had put forward the option of the outer harbour proposal for a new port in Kwinana.
“This proposal aims at investment of taxpayer dollars in a project that will deliver world class freight movement for decades to come,” he said.
Roe 8 was delayed in December last year when WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled the project’s environmental approval was invalid.