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Lloyd Street Bridge.
Community members Bobbi Ilchik, Marilena Stimpfl and Jeanene Williams protested for a more environmentally friendly bridge design before council on Wednesday night.

Bridge gets the go ahead

THE recent and controversial push for a redesign of the Lloyd Street Bridge came to its final and messy conclusion on Wednesday night with the approval of the bridge in its current single-span form.

City of Swan councillors spent more than two-and-a-half hours weighing up the environmental cost of moving ahead with the design against Traditional Owners’ wishes versus the financial cost to ratepayers of a new design before voting to endorse the existing plan with several conditions.

Those conditions include recommendations to protect a rock shelter at the site, to use clean soil in the bridge’s construction and to keep Traditional Owners, the Wadjuk Native Title Group and community group the Helena River Alliance involved in matters of environment and heritage.

An additional point also requests the bridge be designed and constructed in accordance with recommendations and findings from the October 2021 report into the destruction of Juukan Gorge Indigenous heritage sites.

The decision did not come easy with hours of tense debate resulting in nine councillors ultimately in support and six against.

Mayor and bridge supporter David Lucas said the decision was likely the most important one he would have made during his 30 years on council.

“In my view, councillors, you’ve got two options, one is to approve the concept design and hand the bridge over to State Government or the other is to have no bridge at all,” he said.

Cr Lucas referenced a “frank and open” conversation between himself and Planning and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti the previous week in which Ms Saffioti said if council did not endorse the concept plan the bridge would be removed from the overall Great Eastern Highway Bypass Interchange project and create a funding shortfall of almost $34 million – to be funded by ratepayers.

Two previous motions by Crs Ian Johnson and Sarah Howlett, one to prepare a new concept design and the second to defer the concept design until more traffic modelling was made available both lost 5/10 and 6/9 respectively.

Speaking in support of his motion, Cr Johnson said a redesign would not cost “tens of millions of dollars” as speculated and any additional costs could be lobbied for from State and Federal government.

“Councillors we should be doing what we can to preserve this environment and not dump hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of infill into the Helena River floodplain,” he said.

“If we go ahead with this design it will be our own Juukan Gorge.

“We can ask for a different design for a wider span that doesn’t not affect the bandicoots, quenda, turtles and other animals.”

The council also heard deputations from three members of the public supporting the current bridge design and seven against at last week’s forum not to mention hundreds of emails and phone correspondence received by all councillors.

Greens WA senator and Yamatji-Noongar woman Dorinda Cox spoke before the vote on behalf of three of the seven Traditional Owners consulted prior to section 18 approval.

“We were told that a bridge had to be built but we did not agree to this and we don’t understand how it got approval,” she said.

“The bridge will still be built in the same place, it will still infill most of the floodplain, the billabong will be buried in a pipe and there will still be pylons in the river.

“Throughout this process, we felt at loggerheads with Main Roads and that it did not matter that we didn’t want a bridge because it would be built anyway.

“We felt we had no choice but to agree to whatever sounded like the best option without really being able to understand what that best option was.”

By Claire Ottaviano

See previous coverage of Lloyd Street Bridge here

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

2 comments

  1. Another second rate plan from a mob that is only good at planning catering events.

    Stand by for an underutilized bridge or a catastrophic traffic outcome. Just look at the situation now in that are. It’s a complete abomination.

    As for David Lucas said the decision was likely the most important one he would have made during his 30 years on council, I am speechless.

    • Appalling irresponsibility on part of City of Swan.
      Based on a web of deception and showing total disregard for the environmental and cultural values of the site, this will hang heavy as a huge failure of trust and duty.

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