PREMIER Colin Barnett’s announcement that a re-elected Liberal Government will construct Roe 9 – the next phase of the Perth Freight Link – has created a stark choice for Melville voters.
Labor under Mark McGowan remains committed to scrapping the entire project and local candidates for both major parties were quick to reinforce their positions on the controversial road.
Liberal candidate for Bateman Dean Nalder resigned as Transport Minister when the Premier refused to commit to Roe 9 late last year and welcomed Mr Barnett’s change of heart.
“Roe 8 and the Fremantle tunnel (Roe 9) will save lives, reduce congestion, create thousands of jobs, improve local amenity and relative property values and provide large productivity gains to industry,” he said.
“The project has the potential to be self-funded through sharing productivity gains with industry and will leave Western Australia in a better environmental position.”
His Labor counterpart Tomas Fitzgerald said there was still no plan to cross Stirling Bridge and that the PFL remained a road to nowhere.
“WA Labor has a credible, serious alternative,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“We will build the Outer Port and direct freight movements away from residential areas and a port that is reaching capacity.”
Construction of Roe 9 would negate the need for a possible grade separation at the intersection of Stock Road and Leach Highway, granting a reprieve to nearby homes and businesses under threat of resumption.
Labor candidate for Bicton Lisa O’Malley said that voters were cynical about Liberal Government promises and that just weeks ago, Mr Barnett told Palmyra residents in Moody Glen not to spend money improving their homes.
“My focus remains talking to voters in Bicton about WA Labor’s long-term solution for freight and transport,” she said.
“That means increasing the freight-rail subsidy to get trucks off our roads in the short-term, and building the second port at Kwinana in the long-term to shift freight movements away from our community altogether.”
Liberal candidate for Bicton Matt Taylor said voters now had a clear choice at the March 11 election.
“Only the Liberal government has a transport plan to reduce congestion, improve road safety and make life easier for drivers in our local community,” he said.
“Roe 8 and Roe 9 will remove nearly 7000 trucks and 74,000 light vehicles per day from our southern urban arterial road network.”
Bicton independent Stephen Kepert said the Liberal Party had spent months dithering on its position on Roe 9.
“No one is fooled by this desperate attempt to look decisive after years of blunders in the weeks before an election,” he said.
“As before, this tunnel invites continually growing truck traffic into a bottleneck that will ruin East Fremantle and the surrounding suburbs.”
MELVILLE Mayor Russell Aubrey welcomed news the Liberal Party was committed to constructing Roe 9 and labelled the project the missing piece of a ring road system that would allow quick and easy travel around the Perth metropolitan area.
He also said the tunnel was the best possible solution for the safety, social and economic issues facing Melville residents because of growing congestion in the region.
“Completing (the Perth Freight Link) will enable freight traffic to travel direct into Fremantle and also allow many of the cars now travelling through the local suburbs to take a faster and more direct route to their destinations,” he said.
“The end result will be the removal of approximately 6000 trucks per day and 75,000 vehicles per day from local roads, significantly cutting congestion in Melville and across the region.”
Mr Aubrey said when completed, Perth Freight Link would cut travel times to important destinations like Fiona Stanley Hospital and Perth Airport.
“It will improve public safety by separating the freight traffic heading to Fremantle Port and nearby industrial zones from the cars and public transport making local journeys,” he said.
“It will significantly improve the local environment by reducing greenhouse emissions by 450,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2031 as a result of reducing stop-start traffic on Leach Highway and adjoining roads.
“It will also help to preserve green open space throughout Melville that otherwise will need to be removed to make way for 20 major road upgrades.”