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Helena River Alliance outside Town Hall in support of a motion to stop works on the Lloyd Street Bridge until a concept plan can be approved by council.

Heritage concerns see bridge put on hold

Construction on the new Lloyd Street Bridge from Hazelmere to Midland has ground to a halt while the State considers moving the bridge further west to mitigate cultural and heritage concerns.

Traditional Owners and local conservation groups put forward the new alignment after a Federal government ordered review of the project under Section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

The new proposal moves the bridge further west, to a narrower crossing of the Helena River, loosely following the footprint of the old Whiteman Road bridge that was demolished in 2002.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti made the announcement this morning saying the proposed realignment was less imposing on local registered Aboriginal heritage sites’ native vegetation, nearby wetlands and on the river flood plain.

“I appreciate the fact that the Traditional Owners and local conservation groups have put forward a new alignment of the Lloyd Street Bridge for consideration,” she said.

“I originally supported the first proposed alignment because it was put forward by the City of Swan and connected the northern and southern approaches of Lloyd Street, which Council only completed in mid-2020.

“However, as the local Traditional Owners and groups have suggested the new proposal I am happy for us to examine this and see how it may work.”

While the proposal is investigated the project will be placed on hold.

Concerns for the health of the floodplain were first put forward by a newly formed coalition of environmental and ratepayer groups in September 2021 – as reported in Lloyd Street Bridge concern (Echo News, September 2021).

The eight local groups, including the Blackadder Woodbridge and Helena River catchment groups, Midland Association, Friends of Woodbridge Bushland, Lower Helena Association, Guildford Association and Woodbridge Ratepayers Association, feared the bridge’s ‘batter’ design would detrimentally impact the Helena River floodplain.

However, concerns about the appropriateness of the site came much earlier by Traditional Owners during the project’s initial consultation process (first reported in Echo News, February 2022, Council to make decision on Lloyd St Bridge.)

“[The Whadjuk Native Title Claim (NTC) group] believe building a bridge at this location is not in keeping with the significance of the site to the Whadjuk people and as such they recommend Main Roads do not proceed with this project and seek other solutions to managing traffic,” a Main Roads WA report said.

While the project claimed it had all the necessary environmental and heritage Section 18 approvals, some of the Traditional Owners that took part in the original consultation fought back when the plan came to Swan Council for 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,” Greens WA senator and Yamatji-Noongar woman Dorinda Cox told councillors in March.

“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.”

The Lloyd Street Bridge project is being delivered by Main Roads on behalf of the City of Swan, who delivered the northern and southern sections, and is co-funded by State and Federal Governments.

The State Government said the proposed new alignment will be a significant diversion from the original proposal.

By Claire Ottaviano

See also: Future of Lloyd Street Bridge in limbo, Bridge design rethink lost, and GEH Bypass project surges ahead

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.

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