Proposed Stephenson Avenue tunnel a trip back to the future

Dean Nalder.
Dean Nalder.

THE 1956-designed route for Stephenson Highway was back in the news when former transport minister Dean Nalder proposed a tunnel from Attadale to Stephenson Avenue, Woodlands, in his Perth Transport Plan last July.

A tunnel would be many decades in the future, if at all, and could be much like Mr Nadler’s state leadership tilt that fizzled several months later.

However, the tunnel idea illustrated just how the highway’s sections could still be part of planning for an alternative north-south route 60 years after their conception.

The highway was originally intended to link the Mitchell Freeway at Balcatta, then travel roughly south-west to Swanbourne.

However planning changes, concerns about bush, and Perth’s expansion elsewhere meant its parts west of Herdsman Lake, and through both Wembley Golf Course and Bold Park, were never built.

One section that was used can be seen at the Servetus Street cutting in Swanbourne.

However, extension of that four-lanes south through Cottesloe faced strong community opposition in the mid-1990s, when newly-minted Cottesloe MP Colin Barnett got better sound barriers for residents opposite the dual carriageway.

Road reserves still exist from the bottleneck now created at the south end of the cutting, along the Fremantle railway, past Leighton Beach, to join Stirling Highway at the Queen Victoria Street intersection in North Fremantle.

That Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano is now pushing for 1.5km at the route’s northern end is testimony to the legacy of long-term planning.