Opinion: public opposition is the bogey in Main Roads’ march to a new bridge in Swanbourne

Photo: Jon Bassett
Photo: Jon Bassett

SIR Alec Guinness in the film The Bridge over the River Kwai could not have done a better job blowing up community confidence in Main Roads’ plans to replace the Congdon Road traffic bridge in Swanbourne at a public meeting in Claremont 10 days ago.

In the penultimate scene, Guinness, playing obsessive Lt-Col Nicholson, is shot and falls on commandos’ explosives plunger that blows up the bridge that has cost many of his men’s lives to build for the Japanese in WWII.

At the meeting, Main Roads engineers argued with residents, some of who admittedly were a bit ill-informed or put their interests ahead of the wider community.

The message appeared disorganised, and the people were angry.

The Western Suburbs Weekly is not suggesting Main Roads is as mad as Nicholson, but it really should have not just looked at the literal lie of the land for new bridge designs.

While the State Government’s road builder is feeling flush after completing a new bridge at nearby Ashton Avenue, Claremont, and has plans to replace Subiaco’s Hamilton Street and Eric Street, Cottesloe bridges, it should have looked at the 1990s when residents stopped West Coast Highway’s extension, causing much of current congestion in Swanbourne and Cottesloe.

Congdon Street’s old bridge created one of the best villages in Perth, and with the right design and a master plan its replacement could be a poster-child for transit-oriented development.

Engineers build bridges, and residents build communities, but both need to take the plunge and understand each other in Swanbourne.