By Claire Ottaviano
CONSTRUCTION on the long anticipated Great Eastern Highway Bypass Interchange project, including the new Lloyd Street Bridge, has officially begun.
On Tuesday, Planning and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, City of Swan mayor David Lucas and Kalamunda mayor Margaret Thomas together with federal and state members turned the first sod to symbolically kick off the project.
The $386 million project brings together five road upgrades including two new grade separated interchanges along the Bypass at Abernethy Road and Roe Highway and the extension of Lloyd Street from Clayton Street to the Bypass.
Ms Saffioti said it aimed to move freight around the eastern corridor and would save commuters about 10 minutes in peak time.
“This is a major project and there will be a lot of traffic management in place but this is all about getting our traffic flowing smoother in this area, saving time and improving safety too,” she said.
In April 2019, the City of Swan launched the highly successful Build Bridges Not Traffic campaign which saw emails sent to politicians every time ratepayers with special Smart Stickers drove past congestion hotspots in the area.
A $20 million state government commitment to the Lloyd Street Bridge was announced soon after the campaign started.
Despite 20 years of work by the City of Swan to progress the project, a councillor motion to request a review of the bridge design was put forward in this month’s council agenda.
The motion, by Cr Ian Johnson, sought to reduce environmental impact of the current single span design but the motion was deferred.
Ms Saffioti said the design was created based off extensive consultation with traditional land owners and was preferred over the pier design suggested by a group opposed to the single span design.
“One of the clear things we had to secure for approval, in particular to Section 18 (Aboriginal heritage), was to remove the piers from the water because that’s a big issue for Aboriginal cultural reasons,” she said.
“We are working with the Aboriginal groups and environmental agencies and this design will have to be approved by DBCA and they will consider all the issues in relation to impact on the local environment.
“It is a challenging situation because the Aboriginal groups would like a flatter abutment and the environmental groups would like a steeper abutment, but we’re trying to manage all of that.
“We’re working with all the right agencies to get the most environmentally sensitive [design] but also one that reflects the priorities of the local Aboriginal communities.”
A recently formed coalition of environmental and ratepayer groups called the Helena Alliance is pushing for a redesign of the Lloyd Street Bridge for fear current plans would detrimentally impact the Helena River floodplain. See previous Lloyd Street Bridge concern