ENVIRONMENTAL and cultural heritage groups have spoken of their elation after successfully lobbying for a review of the Lloyd Street Bridge.
Construction on the infamous bridge, connecting Lloyd Street from Hazelmere to Midland over the Helena River, has now ground to a halt while the state considers a realignment to a narrower section of the river – west of its planned location.
“The Helena River Alliance (HRA) and the Traditional Owners were never against a bridge,” HRA spokesperson Marilena Stimpfl said.
“We always wanted a better outcome for the floodplain, for the environment and for heritage and this re-alignment could deliver just that.
“It’s a partial win – the win will be when the community gets their bridge, heritage is protected and the environment is elevated to where it should be.”
In December 2021, City of Swan Council voted to stop initial ground works at the site with the intent to ask state government for a more environmentally and culturally friendly design.
In response to council’s decision, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti told Echo News at the time that a total revamp of the bridge structure was not something the state was willing to undertake due to the work already completed, the environmental and heritage approvals already in place and the “finite budget”.
Now, in a complete backflip, Ms Saffioti said in a statement last week that a realignment would be less imposing on local registered Aboriginal heritage sites, native vegetation, nearby wetlands and on the river floodplain.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Despite the blame being wholly placed on the City of Swan, the HRA said the state government also had a responsibility to listen to concerns.
“We have been campaigning for nearly a year and a half, [Ms Saffioti] knew the issues about the bridge,” Dr Stimpfl said.
“It’s a bit strange all of a sudden that all the blame is on the City because we have been trying to engage with the minister for a really long time.
“Saying that, we are relieved at the end she is prepared to come to the table to find a solution and be a part of it.”
In Future of Lloyd Street Bridge in limbo (December, 23, 2021), Echo News revealed Traditional Owners had expressed concern with the bridge’s location as early as 2020, recommending Main Roads not proceed with the project.
However, as the Whadjuk Native Title Claim group believed Main Roads intended to proceed with the project in the planned location regardless, they indicated their preference for a steel single-span bridge over a pier design.
As a result, the bridge’s design was changed from pier to single-span.
“The Traditional Owners are very reasonable, they just want to be heard,” Dr Stimpfl said.
“Not just, ‘we talked to you, thank you for your input and goodbye’ which is what happened originally.
“They’re pleased that this is happening, [but] they’re also saddened this has taken so long to be able to have their input heard and taken on board.”
In response to the news of the bridge relocation, chief executive Jeremy Edwards said the City would continue to work with the State Government and key stakeholders to achieve the best outcome for the community.
By Claire Ottaviano