Comment: 60-year Stephenson Hwy plan may be the fix for Cottesloe congestion

Comment: 60-year Stephenson Hwy plan may be the fix for Cottesloe congestion

RESURECTING part of a 1956-designated highway for 2016 traffic in Innaloo may be a fix for the heavy truck and traffic bottleneck through Cottesloe.

Last week, the Labor Party promised $60 million to a $119m north-east extension of Stephenson Avenue, Woodlands, which would have been part of the dormant Stephenson Highway planned 60 years ago.

It was claimed the extension, starting in 2019-20 after Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano promoted the idea, may solve congestion and generate development near adjacent shopping centres, while producing 40,000 jobs at the planned Stirling City Centre.

Time, new suburbs and new planning priorities have scuppered all but one western suburbs section of the old reservations for the highway from the Mitchell Freeway, Innaloo, south-west to north of Swanbourne.

“This reservation does not extend to Stephenson Avenue in Claremont but connects with West Coast Highway alongside Oceanic Drive in City Beach,” a Department of Infrastructure and Planning spokeswoman told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

The spokeswoman said the reservation could be used, but it “would be subject to future planning and decisions by government”.

Sustainable transport planners have said pressure would increase to use any of the remaining reservations and extend West Coast Highway for heavy freight on the coast if any privatised Fremantle Port gets its controversial Perth Freight Link.

A 2015 Fremantle Port Authority survey showed about 300 container trucks, in addition to normal heavy goods vehicles, go through Cottesloe to deliver to northern suburbs daily.

While many truckies travel early to avoid jams, no one can avoid the bottlenecks at the Servetus Street, Swanbourne cutting, Grant and Eric streets at other times.

In the 1990s, residents opposed continuing the cuttings widened West Coast Highway into Cottesloe, leaving a Norfolk pine and bush-lined Curtin Avenue-Leighton Marshalling Yards reserve in North Fremantle where the trucks are loaded each day.

Now two decades later, treble the trucks could pass that reserve, if PFL critics are believed, when Fremantle Port handles up to 2.1m containers annually by 2038.

As Innaloo’s Stephenson Avenue extension shows, do not expect all roads and reservations to be dormant forever.