MANDURAH MLA David Templeman has used his Budget reply speech in Parliament this week to plead that the City of Mandurah consider very carefully the Old Traffic Bridge replacement issue in the context of the city’s heritage, identity and traffic management future.
“The decision on the replacement of the existing Old Mandurah Traffic Bridge must be taken in the context of the Estuary Bridge,” he said.
“It is critical that the Estuary Bridge be seen as the key through traffic bridge for north and south bound traffic whilst the pedestrian and tourist values of the Old Mandurah Bridge must be preserved when looking at what we replace that bridge with.”
Mr Templeman said it was his firm view that the Estuary Bridge be duplicated to create a six-lane bridge.
“The Government must make provision for this bridge duplication in the forward estimates now,” he said.
“I am not convinced by the view put by some that we then need to replace the Old Traffic Bridge with a four-lane traffic bridge as well.
“A four-lane bridge will, on its own destroy the pedestrian and tourist qualities of the CBD because we would ultimately be channelling through traffic into an already congested CBD area.”
Mr Templeman said any new structure in the Mandurah city centre should continue to favour local traffic.
“Council needs to genuinely examine the value of retaining the Old Traffic Bridge and if possible keeping this structure as a pedestrian and alfresco thoroughfare,” he said.
“There is even the possibility of creating something quite unique in Australia - a pedestrian-style bridge that has alfresco shops and cafes facing north across the estuary.
“A new three-lane bridge could then be constructed immediately behind the existing structure.”
Mr Templeman said if it was absolutely confirmed that the Old Traffic Bridge was structurally unsound and could not be retained at all, then a new three-lane traffic bridge should be the option, again incorporating the elements of pedestrian access with north facing café and alfresco area options incorporated within the new structure.
“The fact that the bridge faces north gives it great scope and opportunity to be exploited,” he said.
“Why shouldn’t we be aiming for something absolutely unique for our city?
“Just imagine the possibilities of vibrant small shops and cafes facing north, looking across the water.
“I fear that the engineers will simply argue that it has to be a demolition of the existing bridge and the only option is a four-lane structure that destroys the tourist and pedestrian values we should be promoting for the CBD and through traffic into an already choked CBD.”
With just one attempt to get it right, Mr Templeman said the new structure must last 100 years.
“Ultimately we only get one go at this; Mandurah has the opportunity to create something unique and now is the time to be bold.”
Mr Templeman also questioned when the public would be consulted and engaged with in regard to the bridge issue as had been promised.
“Again I fear that we might not get a real opportunity to help determine what could be a wonderful legacy for the future of our city.”
Mr Templeman said he would be seeking to meet with the City of Mandurah to discuss what he considered was one of the most important issues and decisions the city faced.