Fremantle’s Integrated Transport Strategy – my take on what we need

Fremantle has initiated a review of it ‘Integrated Transport Strategy’ and not before time.

This Strategy has a planning horizon of 15 years. So what was Fremantle’s Transport situation like 15 years ago, ie, 1999? Was it any different than today, 15 years later? Are the issues of 1999 any different to the issues of 2014? One would have to say, many of them haven’t changed, haven’t been improved, but we have some new ones to add to the list.

15 years ago and more,

  • The volume of HGV using Hampton Road as a ‘through’ route to the harbor, created a divide between the suburbs east of Hampton rd and those on the west. Making single lane in places has made a slight improvement for pedestrians crossing the road, but otherwise, has it changed. There is a constant stream of HGV’s still using Hampton Rd as their preferred route from Naval Base for the growing volume of break up container traffic. Why is this designated by MRWA as a Heavy Goods Route? What has the City done to get that removed?
  • Back then there were more freight trains carrying containers into and out of the harbor, reducing the volume of HGV on our roads.
  • The Bus Port was located adjacent to the Railway Station with another major pick point outside ‘Target’. Nothing much changed or improved there!
  • Bus routes into the Bus Port, still the same. A plus is the Bus Lanes on Hampton Rd. But still trundling done the cappuccino strip, ie, the hub of the City’s most unique characteristic, the Entertainment Precinct. Coming from the north and east still the same route directly down Queen Victoria St into the CBD.
  • Car Parks no significant change in number or location. Parking fees have changed. Woolstores car park was freely available but now constrained to Woolstores Shopping centre users. Alma St car park, servicing the hospital, now run in almost military fashion by a private concern.
  • A little more than 15 years ago, Fremantle was ‘The Bicycle Friendly City’, with cyclists all permitted to use the CBD pavements and paths, not now. But it is once again making moves in that direction, with a significant number of partial bike lanes.
  • South Terrace wasn’t traffic calmed, so it was safer then, without the ‘Calming  Islands’ which endanger cyclists.
  • The Cappuccino Strip is still not pedestrianised! Several expensive half baked approaches to calm it have been tried.

At the Strategic Level, I have to conclude that nothing much has changed or improved. The city has made small scale changes here and there. The latter characterizes the approach, ie, do a bit on a section of road, here and there, and likewise on others. If the latter was a strategic approach, ie, let’s be brave and try some different approaches, then it would be praise worthy, but that was not the Strategy.

What next:

I don’t think there is any argument to make the West End and in fact most of the City Ward a calmed traffic area. As much as possible, devoid of motor vehicles. Designed for pedestrians and bikes (at a very moderate speed). Great access to public transport. The City Ward is in my opinion the defining characteristic of Fremantle, ie, it is Fremantle’s ‘Entertainment Precinct’. Hence this establishes the framework for the ITS for the CBD.

For comparison, City Ward isn’t significantly larger than Galleria! It is perfectly feasible to consider this a total pedestrian zone!

Thinking outside the square:

When problem solving it sometimes pays to take a radical position, and then modify that with pragmatism. So why not start from the perspective of every street in City Ward being a no go area for motor traffic?

  • How would Fire Engines get in and out? Similar issue for buses.
  • Harbour and South Mole traffic could use Victoria Quay Rd, maybe too much of a constraint, but possibly feasible.
  • If the Bus Port stays adjacent to the railway Station how would they get in from north, east and south?
    • Move the Bus Port, and where too?
    • Who and what is it serving?
    • What about residential traffic with their cars
    • Service vehicles for residential, commercial, utilities and council (eg, garbage)?
      • Time zoned entry?
      • Limited access, eg, speed restraint on pedestrianised routes,
      • Localized traffic only.
      • Block off some roads so they are no longer through routes to stop them becoming rat runs.
      • Car Park access
        • Relocate car parks to feed in routes.

I think one can imagine a very different Entertainment Precinct, based on such a problem solving approach. The outcome would be a major change to the character of this area. Most of the issues are solvable without having to open up every street to motor traffic during social hours.

The most significant motor vehicle need remains Emergency and bus routes. Obvious secondary needs would relate to the relocated positions of car parks, and access to South Mole. I suspect these could all be linked to a single set of routes. For example:

North:

  • Motor Traffic entering the City from north and NE, ie, Fremantle Bridge and Canning Hwy, would enter predominantly onto Beach St.
    • This would require a modified intersection to enter Beach Street from a new road at the intersection of Canning/Fremantle Bridge, instead of currently using James St.
    • Elder and Phillimore would then become obvious extension of Beach as the major northerly feed in route, that could service South Mole emergency and bus traffic.
      • This would significantly reduce the motor traffic volume on Queen Victoria St into the northern most boundary of the City Ward.
      • The land to the NW of Beach and Elder is already car park, and is unlikely to ever be zoned suitable for anything else, due to its adjacency to the railway and harbor. So expand it. Make this a new 2/3 storey car park for an extended length.
        • This increased car park would serve the needs of traffic entering from the north and NE.
        • At peak times a free mini bus service would shuttle passengers into other key parts of the City, eg, bus port, railway station, hospital, etc.
        • One of the most significant issues is traffic needing to access Victoria Quay.
          • I think it is ridiculous that the Fremantle Port Authority is effectively a law unto itself. All the traffic to and from here must come through the CoF, and yet the City is for all intents and purposes a bystander.
          • Current plans of FPA are to develop Victoria Quay in direct competition with CoF. What possible reason is there for the City to support such a strategy, and to incorporate their needs within the ITS?
          • As a Council, as things stand, I would oppose through traffic on Beach/Elder/Phillimore. That is, Victoria Quay’s only entry would be via the bridge under the railway at the northern end of Beach St or the gate at the western end of Riverside Rd.

South:

  • The major routes from South within the new Shire boundary will continue to be, Stock Rd, Carrington St, Rockingham Rd and Cockburn Rd.
    • Of these the use of the feeders to Hampton Rd from Rockingham and Cockburn Rds for HGV are the most contentious. They don’t serve the Shire in any way. Rather, they are just convenient alternatives through routes to the harbour. The Strategy must stop this! Nothing less!
    • Within South and City Wards, the southern routes are Hampton, South Terrace and via Douro Rd to Marine Terrace.
    • The South Beach/Coogee developments are increasing the usage of South Terrace and also into and hence from Cockburn Rd
    • The southern end of South Fremantle on South Terrace is seeing an increase in its own Cappuccino Strip. Based on the Fremantle cappuccino strip experience, this too is likely to need traffic calming for increased pedestrian and cycling activity during the 15 year planning horizon of this strategy.
    • Marine Terrace is an under used route.
      • Yet for most of its length is two way dual carriageway.
      • At its most southerly end, the westerly carriageway is car park, and has been for some decades. For the remainder of the dual carriageway there is also significant parking that is fully used, particularly during the weekdays and evenings.
      • Mews Rd, on the western side of the railway adjacent to Marine terrace, is built out with buildings mainly of two storeys.
      • This seems like an obvious location for increased car parking for motor traffic from the South.
        • Like the most southerly part, instead of dual carriageway, make the eastern carriageway a two way road. Use the full extent of the westerly carriageway as car park.
        • The western carriageway adjacent to Mews Rd, zone that 2/3 storey car park.
        • At peak times a free mini bus service would shuttle passengers into other key parts of the City, eg, bus port, railway station, hospital, etc.
        • In the longer term Light Rail would use the adjacent railway, and hence could replace the mini bus shuttle service.
        • South Terrace:
          • With the current need to reduce motor traffic use of South Terrace at its northern end, ie, Cappuccino Strip,
          • Its extension towards the hospital roundabout,
          • Growth in South Fremantle’s own Cappuccino Strip on the same road,
          • The already fully established residential suburb that South Fremantle is and its streets interconnecting with South Terrace,
          • It begs the obvious question as to why South Terrace would remain a feeder route to the City Ward? Certainly remaining a bus and emergency service route? Isn’t Marine Terrace more suitable?
          • Marine Terrace seems to be a more logical feeder route to the City Ward, the Entertainment Precinct, from the South, under the strategy I have outlined so far.
            • High quality road
            • Would be a feeder for southerly car parking
            • Already a feeder to Mews Rd and its entertainment and commercial needs.
            • For permitted traffic to enter the reduced motor vehicle access parts of City Ward, it is the natural existing road to meet that requirement.
            • It is close to the north feeder route of Beach/Elder/Phillimore roads.

Merging North and South:

  • How could the northern and southern feeder routes be joined to give access for emergency, bus and service traffic?
    • With reduced traffic volume on Hampton Rd, ie, no HGV through traffic, residential traffic would be encouraged to enter the City and South Fremantle wards via Hampton Rd.
    • Also the reduced traffic access strategies outlined previously, would reduce the traffic volumes, particularly during social hours.
    • With this reduced traffic volume, would a single one of the existing roads meet the flow requirements? At worst it would require two roads, from the existing four, ie, Cliff, Mouat, Henry and Pakenham.
    • Those 2/3 roads not required as feeders, would have reduced access controls, eg, blocked at High St to stop rat runs, automatically controlled time zoned access controls, eg, hydraulic bollards or gateways, overridible for emergency use.
    • High St (west of Market St) and the 2/3 cross streets would essentially become pedestrian/bike friendly streets, virtually motor traffic free during social hours.
    • Likewise most of the smaller streets , eg, Short, Nairn, Croke, Collie, Essex, William, parts of Cantonment.
    • The latter depending on how far out the Entertainment Precinct ought to extend. There is a case to include the Amendment 49 blocks.

 Some bigger picture aspects:

In the bigger picture, with extended shire boundaries, dealing with the harbour traffic remains a significant issue; as does light (maybe heavy) rail to feed a growing residential corridor to the south.

In this bigger picture where Fremantle will be impacted more by the container traffic to the harbour, issues such as the long term future of the current habour, a possible new harbour on the new southern boundary become significant in all sorts of ways but certainly for Integrated Transport Strategy. How can the City of Fremantle play a significant role in these State level issues?

 An obvious solution is far greater use of the existing rail infrastructure, for freight, passenger use (light and heavy rail). On ABC Catalyst they assessed freight rail, and their specific example serving one of the ports on the eastern seaboard carried 8 trains of 90-100 100 tonne carriages every hour. The current line around Fremantle carries half the number of carriages/train and less than 6 trains per day, not per hour! What a waste of existing infrastructure. Potentially it could reduce HGV transport needs by thousands of vehicles/pa! The benefits to the community of Fremantle, ie, authority wide, would be colossal.

The existing rail line takes in the coastal parts of the City, South Fremantle, Hamilton Hill and Spearwood, including some stations used during the America’s Cup. The rail reserve already includes space for dual tracks. Not that the latter would be need throughout its length during this planning horizon, but certainly would enable passing and shunting space for carrying the variety of traffic I envisage, ie, more freight, and Light rail.

Bike Plan:

The Fremantle Bicycle User Group (BUG) has been lobbying the Council to determine the network of roads identified as being most suitable for cycle use for recreation and commuting. It is hoped this work will happen during the early part of 2014, but it has been repeatedly postpone for several years. This ITS is timely in that regard, will it give the impetus to complete this at last? This is important as many will have noticed the rather piecemeal approach to building cycle infrastructure in Fremantle to date. Motorists hate this bits and pieces approach, predictability helps traffic flow.

 

Car Parking:

I have already outlined two car parking ideas one for the South and North. These are intentionally close too, but not within the Entertainment Precinct. I think there is probably a need for additional parking to the east, but not in such obvious locations. Two locations on Hampton/Ord might be suitable, ie, the land adjacent to the prison, and in Ord opposite Fremantle Park.

Although not a fan of parking close to the city centre, the current car park to the west of the prison on Parry St could be zoned for multistory parking. But it seems much too good a location to waste in such a manner.

 That is me done for today. Hope it stimulates some feedback

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One Response to Fremantle’s Integrated Transport Strategy – my take on what we need

  1. robjwall says:

    Some excellent detailed thinking here. I am looking forward to getting together with some paper and coloured pens later this week and going over it. Rob Wall.

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