High St upgrade: Council and community express preference for Option 4A

After its consultation with the Fremantle community and council about the various options for the upgrade of High St-Stirling Hwy intersection, the Department of Transport advised that only Options 4 and 4A met its design criteria.

For many in the community and on council, myself included, both options are over-engineered and overly expensive. A more modest design could have addressed the legitimate safety and amenity problem with the current intersection, with the balance of the money better spent on improving railway infrastructure serving the port.

However in the event that the state proceeds with the project anyway Option 4A is preferable because it is more modest and will destroy less of the fabric of the Gibson Park precinct and Booyeembarra Park.

The Department of Transport prefers Option 4 because it better fits their future plans to widen High St and Stock Rd to six lanes and accommodate two or three times as much traffic.

Council officers recommended the the council support Option 4. However Councillors Coggin, Wilson and I proposed an alternative resolution that the City give in principle support to Option 4a with a number of conditions. These include the construction of overpasses/underpasses and the gazetting of High St as a four lane road only. This resolution was passed 10 to 1. The full text is below:

ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATION – COUNCIL ITEMS – C1108-2 HIGH STREET OPTIONS

That Council:

1. Notes its concern that the Government of Western Australia has not fully investigated alternative integrated transport planning actions to reduce the impact of truck movements across Perth in general and on High Street in particular.

2. Notes with alarm that that the percentage of containers being moved to and from the port by rail has fallen from 17% in 2007 to 11% 2011. It is also concerned that the impending closure of the state’s Tier 3 railway lines may push up to 1.4 million tonnes of grain per year on to the state’s roads.

3. Calls on the State Government to take urgent action to both meet the Freight Network Review (2002) target of 30% of freight to the port on rail by 2013 and to keep open the Tier 3 railway lines.

4. Recognises that there are immediate safety and amenity problems with the existing High Street-Stirling Highway intersection. Council supports a separated service road for residents on High Street, the provision of sound barriers, the elimination of the blind crest immediately to the east of the intersection and the creation of more “free turns” for vehicles travelling between High Street and Stirling Highway.

5. Has the view that these issues could be addressed with a more modest rebuild retaining the T-intersection. The remaining funds would then be better spent on improving rail infrastructure for the port.

6. Notes that the Independent Consultant’s Multi Criteria Analysis for the High Street upgrade options from Stirling Highway to Chudleigh Street evaluated 5 options, of which:
a. Option 4 and Option 4A were both viable options that met all criteria.
b. Option 6A was ruled out because it was not consistent with the National Freight Strategy Funding Criteria.
c. The Flyover and Underpass options were ruled out because the costs were assumed to be more than the available funding, however they did meet the Freight Efficiency and priority Port access criteria.

7. Notes that the economic, social and environmental benefits of improving rail infrastructure relative to road infrastructure have not informed the Multi Criteria Analysis performed by Worley Parsons.

8. Notes that the Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised that there is no urgency in making a decision, and certainly no requirement for a final design decision, by the end of August 2011.

9. Gives in-principle support to option 4A for the High Street upgrade from Stirling Highway to Chudleigh Street subject to the State Government:
a) defining the reservation width for a four lane divided road only;
b) providing a commitment to fund pedestrian/cycle overpasses/underpasses at Montreal and Holland Streets;
c) providing a commitment to fund the re-design, re-construction and landscape works associated with reconfiguration of the public golf course (including an upgraded driving range and relocated clubhouse);
d) providing a commitment to fund the resumption, capping and redevelopment of a minimal portion of Booyeembara Park to incorporate use by the public golf course if required to enable the reconfiguration of the golf course to a 9 hole, 34 par minimum golf course;
e) providing a commitment to fund a new multipurpose community building and Public Golf Course clubhouse building at/or adjacent to Booyeembara Park;
f) providing further details on impacts on the Royal Fremantle Golf Course and clubhouse and prioritises a design that is primarily within the existing road reserve east of Wilkinson Street;
g) adopting, implementing and enforcing model engine brake noise standards approved by the National Transport Council as engine braking is the main source of noise from truck traffic around the High Street and Stirling Highway intersection;
h) providing a commitment to monitor noise levels on an ongoing basis and install sound proofing in residences if the evidence demonstrates unacceptable noise levels;
i) agreeing to undertake a health impacts survey based on current pollution levels generated by the road, and creates a mechanism for ongoing future monitoring;
j) undertaking a detailed road design process on Option 4A that:
i. provides the opportunity for community input and refinement of the design to increase safety and minimise the impact on the number of houses and properties affected;
ii. includes features such as service roads, installing high standard landscaping treatments and other design measures that create visual amenity and slow traffic, and provision of appropriate pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure and road crossing points;

10. Will consider full and final approval of the Option 4A at a future Council Meeting, following satisfactory provision of the above consultation, design, infrastructure and funding commitments.

RATIONALE
It is important that we communicate to the community and Government that we believe there are broader regional opportunities to reduce road on freight, and thus reduce the impacts on High Street. It is also important that the Government is honest in its communications that a final decision needs to be made immediately.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the community impacted by the current situation deserve a change that can improve safety and amenity. Truck freight is going to increase on High Street, and work does need to be done to improve the situation.

Therefore, on balance, supporting one of the options that improves safety and amenity and addresses some of the freight criteria is a practical decision that deserves consideration. From this perspective, both Option 4 and 4A are viable options. However, it’s important to note that the comparison between these two options was not equitable and does not fully reflect the community’s expectations.

Key points are:
Option 4 scored slightly better than 4A in relation to safety issues, however Option 4 has the advantage of significant previous design work being done. If Option 4A has additional design work applied to it, as it will if endorsed, the safety factors could easily be addressed and bring its score even closer to or higher than Option 4.

In addition, on any reasonable assessment 4A performs better on environmental and community criteria. Less houses are negatively impacted (both directly and indirectly) in the Holland Street precinct, less Golf Course is lost, and subsequently there’s less potential loss of Booyeembara Park.

The parameters for Safety Assessment in the evaluation were based on a false design parameter that traffic would be reducing speed from 70Km/h on High Street to 50km/h around the bend. If the parameters had included the current speed limit on High Street of 60km/h to 50km/h around the bend, the Safety Assessment score of Option 4A would have improved once again.

Both Option 4 and 4A include traffic lights on the bend (to turn left to Fremantle) and will meet Marmion Street traffic lights 150 metres to the north, Canning Highway traffic lights 1km further north, and then the Tideman Street intersection. Any marginal increase in Freight Efficiency gained from travelling around the High Street/Stirling Highway intersection at 70km/h will clearly be lost given the broader traffic context.

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