Paying Tolls could break the Perth Freight Link

CURTIN University sustainability researchers say trucks will use Curtin Avenue and Stirling Highway to avoid paying tolls on the first stage of the $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link (PFL) from Fremantle Port.

“This will cause further congestion on these roads and negatively impact on the street-fronting businesses, while also creating yet more political impetus to make Stirling Highway into a wider six-lane through-fare,” Professor Peter Newman and Cole Hendrigan said in their June 6 discussion paper.

PFL construction from Bibra Lake to six lanes at East Fremantle starts early next year, with the remainder through North Fremantle, costing about $500 million, yet to be announced.

The paper said the PFL changed decades of planning that evenly split an estimated two million container movements on trucks in Perth in 2050 between Fremantle Port and the cancelled Kwinana Outer Harbour that was to operate from about 2022.

Fremantle Port Authority figures show truck container trips where the western suburbs could be a route accounted for about 18 per cent of about 700,000 containers in 2011.

Professor Newman and Dr Hendrigan want the PFL original Bibra Lake-Kwinana route and said taking it to North Fremantle could reignite debate for the stalled Stephenson Highway, across the Town of Cambridge to the Mitchell Freeway, to cope with toll-avoiding trucks.

They said getting to current and proposed Leighton Peninsula beach housing would be “very limited” when an estimated 13,000 trucks carrying about two million container movements could be going to the current port on the PFL by 2050.

Rethink Perth Freight Link co-convenor Sam Wainwright said a North Fremantle PFL would also put more cars into the western suburbs, with drivers taking an alternative to the Kwinana Freeway.

Before her council discussed the PFL last Monday, Cottesloe Mayor Jo Dawkins said she would only comment after “getting the facts”, but she would be “surprised” if the State Government did not restrict truck drivers using PFL alternatives.

Cambridge Mayor Simon Withers said it was illogical to propose resurrecting the Stephenson Highway idea when the PFL’s toll showed governments had no money for more road-building, and the researchers should have discussed stopping trucks on western suburbs routes.