Freo's View


Posted in fremantle, perth freight link, roe 8 highway, state government, western australia by freoview on January 15, 2017

In an interview today with the Sunday Times  WA Premier Colin Barnett has pledged to go ahead with building the Perth Freight Link despite massive community protest.

Barnett said that if re-elected the construction of the tunnel would start in 2020 and that there was no need to build another bridge over the Swan river or a tunnel underneath it to accommodate the container trucks to Fremantle Port.

While the pros and cons of the PFL can be debated forever it is mind-blowing that the Premier believes the PFL will adequately work without building the last link into the port. That is putting his head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the huge bottleneck it will create at Stirling Highway and in North Fremantle.

Even those who agree with the PFL concept know it won’t work properly unless a new Swan river crossing is provided specifically for freight, so why the state government only wants to build 90% of the freight tollway and not finish it shows they have not found a proper solution to do so, but stubbornly want to go ahead anyway. That is childish and not good governance.

Roel Loopers

11 Responses

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  1. Rob Fittock said, on January 16, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    We are going over old ground mate as I have supported a Sydney Harbour type tunnel under the Swan to surface within the north wharf for nigh on 10 years and while there would be construction, grade issues etcetera they are all overcome by very talented engineers using innovative technology….Roe 10 has a good ring to it

  2. Steve said, on January 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I’m not opposed to the idea of a tunnel in general, it’s just this poorly planned and poorly placed tunnel that makes no sense. This time last year Colin was waxing poetic about the benefits of a split grade elevated highway down Leach (even though those types of projects are widely known to divide communities),meaning this tunnel brain fart has had barely a year of planning.

    A quick google of the Gotthard tunnel indicates a construction time of 17 years, a cost of $12.5bn, or $220m/km –

    Comparing projects against a place with a vast experience in tunneling buried in the Alps really isn’t like for like though.

    The Melbourne tunnel is expected to take 5 years to complete, cost $10.0bn and go 9km, or a cost of $1.2bn/km.

    Again, not like for like as the east coast has experience with long tunnels and this one will include rail and underground stations as well as provide a necessary transport outcome.

    What’s more similar? Maybe the botched Alaskan Way tunnel in Seattle, which is a car-only toll rode near/under water that was supposed to take 6 years, but is now looking more like 10, and a cost of $3.2bn for 3.2km or $980m/km when/if it is completed –

    So Colin thinks he can build a 5km tunnel in a high cost state, known internationally for appalling project delivery, budget over runs, and delays for only $900m, or $180m/km??

    Of course there’s not even a clear FTE estimate on the project nor a publicly available business case to see where this magic comes from. Then we’ve got Bill Marmion going on about 6640 full time jobs? Let’s assume a modest $80k/yr per person and those 6640 people will cost $530m/yr… Better build that tunnel in less than 2 years, Col! Yet construction times are still to be announced…

    Somehow we’re going to magically smash out a tunnel for almost 20% cheaper per km than in Europe, 80% cheaper than what it will cost in Seattle (final costs tbd) and 90% cheaper than what it will cost in Melbourne… All of this with zero local expertise on the subject and an expensive, remote location for bringing in skilled labour and equipment… He’s off by an entire order of magnitude.

    All just to wind up in a traffic jam crossing the river going to a Port sitting on the most valuable land in the state?? Come on.

  3. freoview said, on January 16, 2017 at 7:28 am

    Long tunnels through the Alps under rivers and harbours and cities are common in Europe, so I rather have tunnels than highways.
    My one sticking point is that the entire PFL does not end at Fremantle Port but some 3 kilometres away from it which will put additional stress on Stirling Highway and North Fremantle. It’s a bit like doing an elaborate preprep for a roast with all the trimmings but then not cook it.


  4. Rob Fittock said, on January 16, 2017 at 7:14 am

    As I have previously mentioned on Roel’s blog I remain most impressed with the recently completed Gotthard rail and road tunnels running through the Swiss and Italian Alps but I can’t tell you if it was over budget and/or late but regardless it is now successfully servicing passenger trains and millions of vehicles of all shapes and sizes transporting goods and people….and God forbid I believe it’s tolled

  5. Steve said, on January 15, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    It’s called a waste of money and completely unnecessary. Show me an example of a successful major tunneling project that didn’t go over budget and late.

  6. Rob Fittock said, on January 15, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    It’s called innovative technology Steve and the world is leading the race building tunnels under cities, oceans, deserts, wetlands and through mountains….WA should go along for the exciting ride

  7. Lionel said, on January 15, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Not to mention it is all limestone not sand. Ideal for tunnelling.

  8. Steve said, on January 15, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    The northbridge tunnel wasn’t bored out, it was top down. They cut a road and built a bridge over it. Totally different level of complexity.

    The reported benefits of the proposed tunnel option also extended to the construction method. A “top down” construction process was identified as the preferred method in order to minimise community disruption.
    The top down process involved the construction of the walls and roof of the tunnel, followed by excavation of soil and finally the construction of the tunnel floor.

    Page 18

  9. freoview said, on January 15, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    They did built the tunnel in West Perth Steve.


  10. Steve said, on January 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Tunneling under expensive homes and through beach sand in a state that has never built a road tunnel. What could possibly go wrong??

  11. Rob Fittock said, on January 15, 2017 at 9:23 am


    I clearly remember back around 2000 seeing aerial TV footage of an estimated 10,000 folks on Leighton Beach….a far cry from 1000 at Beeliar….waving their towels in the air to signify their strong opposition to government proposals for wall to wall housing on the marshalling yards

    I think the ‘Leighton Wave’ legend was born on that day and the government and opposition of the day sat up and took notice as they saw that as a massive community protest and a real threat to their jobs

    ….and although we are only a few hundred years behind the rest of the world it’s great to see that people are now talking seriously about tunnels


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