Melville Mayor digs in over freight link tunnel

Rethink the Link co-convenor Kate Kelly, Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett and Cockburn councillor Phil Eva with Main Roads project director Terry Pearce (far right) in Bibra Lake last Tuesday. Picture: Bryce Luff
Rethink the Link co-convenor Kate Kelly, Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett and Cockburn councillor Phil Eva with Main Roads project director Terry Pearce (far right) in Bibra Lake last Tuesday. Picture: Bryce Luff

MELVILLE Mayor Russell Aubrey says he is delighted with reports that Main Roads has backed a tunnel for stage two of the Perth Freight Link.

Stage two of the $1.65 billion project will link Stock Road with Stirling Highway.

“The report outcomes mirror what has been council’s preferred option to save Melville homes, jobs and businesses,” he said.

“A tunnel will have the least impact on residents, with maximum advantage and protection for citizens.

“A tunnel will improve safety and save lives, reduce traffic around residential areas and schools, increase property and rental value, bring lifestyle advantages, as well as financial benefits for government, business owners and residents.”

Main Roads would not be drawn on the reports, but Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told ABC 720 Mornings a decision for Roe 9 needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“The timetable which was agreed was that the whole project would get under way in 2016,” he said. “We are still hopeful that we can meet that deadline, but there are some further conversations between the Commonwealth and the State in relation to the second part of the project.

“Our focus is to deliver the whole Perth Freight Link project because in the end, we can’t just stop at the end of the Roe 8 extension.”

Earlier in the week, more than 50 protesters gathered in Bibra Lake as Main Roads conducted water monitoring tests in preparation for the Roe 8 extension. Roe 8, the first stage of the Perth Freight Link, will extend Roe Highway from Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road through Beeliar wetlands.

Main Roads contractors began drilling near the intersection of Progress Drive and Hope Road on Tuesday morning.

About 10 police officers, including mounted police, cordoned off the area where work was being done. Police numbers more than tripled as the day progressed and more opponents to the road arrived.

Main Roads project director Terry Pearce said Main Roads was there to install bores as part of its groundwater monitoring program in preparation for Roe 8.

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett called on Main Roads to cease work immediately.

“I’m aware of the approval that’s been given but we believe that will be tested in the courts,” he said.

Mr Pearce said he did not have authority to stop work.

“We’re only working in cleared area, there’s no impact on the environment,” he said.