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Great Eastern Highway Bypass project
Local mayors, state and federal politicians, Transport and Planning Minister Rita Saffitoti and Main Roads WA workers turning the first sod.

GEH Bypass project surges ahead

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

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  1. The justification for Lloyd street bridge design given by the Minister in the article are the same soundbites given to the Helena River Alliance that “after extensive consultation with the traditional owners”, their preferred design was an infilled ramp with a flatter abutment resulting in a large clearing footprint, and that the project has “Section 18” approval.

    This is a smoke screen. Section 18 approval enabled destruction of the Juukan Gorge. The ‘consultation process’ afforded to the Traditional Owners (TOs), like the one given to the general public, left a lot to be desired.

    It is utterly unacceptable to single out the Whadjuk Noongar people, as those the responsible for destruction of their heritage and ours. This approach unfairly assigns blame for this botched design to a specific group. Pitting us against them is despicable, and has no place in today’s world.

    No matter how many times we are told that the TOs “approved this design”, it will not change the fact that the onus for this design sits squarely on the Government and the City of Swan shoulders.

    Lack of vision for Midland, lack of respect, and lack of an appropriate budget for the bridge is what is causing community discontent to surface. To compensate for an under-budgeted infrastructure, Main Roads, not the traditional owners, proposed and approved a cheap, outdated, environmentally and culturally inappropriate solution.

    Main Roads thought that no one cared for the Helena River and it’s fantastic and unique environmental and cultural heritage. However, a lot of people care for that hidden jewel that is the Helena River wetland, which at this location remained intact for centuries. This is the only place in the urban section of the Helena River where remnant nature meets traditional culture. It should be saved, not trashed.

    Let us together ‘Re-think the Bridge’, Minister.

    For the Helena River Alliance
    Helena River Catchment Group Inc.
    Blackadder, Woodbridge .Catchment Group Inc
    Lower Helena Association Inc.
    Midland Association Inc.
    Woodbridge Ratepayers Association Inc.
    Friends of Woodbridge Bushland
    Guildford Association Inc.

  2. I write not to question the interchanges, they are welcome. I write in response to what I consider the dubious nature of the Minister’s comments regarding the Lloyd St bridge element. She implies that a wide, battered bridge that will destroy elements of Whatjuk Noongar people’s sacred place will be their fault – really Minister? Are you sure?

    Minister, this is not just a sacred site, it is a Conservation Class Wetland, just like Beeliar Wetland, which your Government trumpets as its approach to conservation – really?

    What hasn’t been recognised is that the primary wish of the local Whadjuk Noongar people is for water to be able to run freely across the whole of the river. That for them, as for geographers, comprises the river bed and the flood plain, not just the river bed as assumed.

    A bridge that will enable water flow across the whole of the floodplain, will reduce the loss of old growth river gums, it will retain the freshwater billabongs and the creatures that depend, seasonally on them. It will save the local turtles from a threat of being buried alive. It will prevent quenda, echidna, carpet snakes and other reptiles from becoming road kill.

    Importantly, it will retain the continuous ribbon of green canopy that runs from near York to the Swan River and that once was, and could again be, a Moort Bidi or trail to the east from the sea. Less than 5% of flooded gum woodland continues to exist in this catchment. Planned developments such as this will remove half of that which remains. We ask: “Pause, Re-think the Bridge”.

  3. It is time to set the record straight with respect to the proposed Lloyd Street bridge over the Helena River between Hazelmere and Midland.

    Notwithstanding the fact that the bridge will funnel large trucks/commercial vehicles into the heart of Midland, the bridge is simply a bad and outdated design with no consideration for land that it will smother.
    Firstly the design completely ignores the secondary water channels on this site that will be filled in and smothered by the 1:6 batters. The traditional owners have not agreed to the obliteration of these secondary water courses and billabongs on the site, the last remaining wetlands on the Helena River floodplain and on par with the Beeliar wetlands.

    Secondly the design exacerbates the footprint and impact on the trees resulting in the destruction of approximately 120 mature Rudis trees at a time when Rudis trees are dying of disease in record numbers at other locations along the river systems. It will take over 200 years for tube stock to reach an equivalent size. So much for sustainability and somewhat ironic when new signs have been installed in Guildford staying “Historic Place Of Many Trees.” Should this really say “Many Trees to Cut Down”? It was very concerning to see a vehicle from a chainsaw company already onsite earlier this week.

    Please Minister, what is the hurry? For the sake of future generations and the preservation of this environment please take a pause to review to ensure true sustainable development and not just blind development for development’s sake.

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