Perth Freight Link: critics attack PM’s funding pledge for tunnel

PERTH Freight Link (PFL) critics have questioned $260 million of Federal Government funding for a proposed tunnel under Fremantle when uncertainty remains about either end of the roughly 3km underground route backed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today.

“South of the tunnel, the environmental approval for the Roe 8 section of PFL has been made invalid by the WA Supreme Court,” Rethink the Link co-convenor Kim Dravnieks said.

It is still unknown how the 16km PFL, which with a tunnel would cost at least $1.9 billion, gets over the Swan River to Fremantle Port in the Cottesloe electorate of Premier Colin Barnett at North Fremantle.

Recently, Canberra bureaucrats told a Senate inquiry the future of a proposed totally overland route of PFL was uncertain because of the decision before last Christmas by the WA Supreme Court about Roe 8, which goes though Beeliar wetlands.

However, Mr Turnbull will contribute $260m to a potential $326m tunnel from Stock Road, near Beeliar, to High Street, East Fremantle, which is proposed to avoid opposition to an overground route.

The contribution comes after vocal backing of the PFL and the tunnel by WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Ms Dravnieks said Mr Nalder claimed the tunnel could provide about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction.

Rethink the Link claims a long-planned outer harbour at Kwinana that would not require a PFL could create 37,000 positions.

“How can Canberra fund something they have no designs for through North Fremantle?” Ms Dravnieks said.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettit said a tunnel did not solve the “main problem” of truck congestion after the tunnel “appeared” to emerge in the Royal Fremantle Golf Course, and it would still need High Street and Marmion Street slip roads in East Fremantle.

“There’s no funding for stage three into North Fremantle, and a tunnel would just be shooting trucks up into a bottleneck on Stirling Highway and across the bridge,” Dr Pettitt said.

Mr Nalder has been contacted for comment.