This Post discusses one of the most disruptive infrastructure projects observed in Perth’s Northern Suburbs. A massive freeway design flyover built at the Joondalup Drive/Wanneroo Road interchange. Severely impacting on the businesses and employees at Drovers Market as well as the surrounding suburbs, schools and district shopping centre.
The traffic and population demand doesn’t exist.
This flyover turned out to be a catastrophic transport decision by the McGowan Government. The visual impact alone is immediate and out of scale with the low-density Drovers precinct and surrounding suburbs? It forms a huge East/West overpass right in the centre of attractive low density suburbs Carramar and Tapping . Just beyond the suburbs is the sparsely populated rural area of East Wanneroo. The population demand for this project does not exist.
After the Mitchell Freeway was extended to Neerabup Road and Hester Avenue, Main Roads WA conducted a Traffic Survey, which revealed a big drop in traffic using the Joondalup Dr/Wanneroo Rd interchange. Unfortunately the Traffic Survey was not available for public distribution?
There is evidence of a lack of transparency and public accountability for this project. The Traffic Survey should have been released to the public, local businesses and residents most affected by the flyover? As it turned out the interchange had undergone a big drop in traffic (50-60% reduction on Wanneroo Road) after the freeway extension opened in 2017.
Political opportunism by Mark McGowan and the Northern suburbs suffer the consequences.
This project revealed a total lack of principle from the Premier and the WA Labor Party. After being elected Mr McGowan vowed to appease his supporters that were opposed to the construction of the Roe 8 freight link to Fremantle.
A significant swing to labor in those electorates close to Roe 8, particularly from Green left supporters secured the fate of the freight link. Local communities and environmentalists protested about potential impacts of Roe 8 on wetlands. It is worth noting that in the 2017 election, WA Greens preferences flowed 83.2% to Labor, around ten percentage points stronger than at previous elections.  Suggesting a significant shift to the left by WA Labor Party.
Even though he cancelled Roe 8, Mr McGowan still had to deal with contractors already signed up by the previous Government. A let out for the Premier was to transfer the work to Joondalup Drive, even though there was negligible traffic demand for the flyover.
It will be interesting to see if there is a political retaliation by Northern suburbs residents against WA Labor at the 2020 election. The social and economic harm caused by the flyover on the residents of Tapping, Carramar and Drovers businesses, may take a very long time to recover. Or may never recover at all? For example, a fall in house prices for properties sitting adjacent to the huge structure and the traffic noise that comes with it.
The flyover construction leads to significant loss of long-term employment
While the Premier maybe seen as a hero by environmentalists for stopping Roe 8 – it’s a totally different attitude in the Northern suburbs. Perhaps a local resident in Carramar whose house sits adjacent to the flyover reflects the views of many in her suburb. Penny Johnson moved into the area 16 years ago to enjoy views of a park from her house and says “The bridge will ruin her view…we’re going to have this massive concrete monstrosity that’s not going to be doing anything.”
The flyover construction led to ongoing traffic disruptions and road access closures resulting in significant decline in cars entering the Drovers precinct, As a consequence businesses closed and over 100 local employees lost their jobs.
The McGowan Government needs to change its substandard infrastructure planning.
Drovers Land Owner Raymond Jackson has clearly good reason to question the impacts of this substandard infrastructure planning. Mr Jackson proposes an independent body be set up prior to works to deal with compensation to businesses that may be affected by infrastructure works throughout WA. There are other proven methods the Labor Government needs to look at. For example the Queensland Government have inserted impact assessment processes into statutory planning and development. The law requires impacts assessment to be done prior to significant developments. This includes the evaluation of the social and economic impacts of a project and the decision whether or not to allow the project to proceed.
We also call on the McGowan Government to learn from the negative outcomes of this badly planned infrastructure project. They are fixated on huge infrastructure projects to accommodate their population policy of adding another 1.5 million people to Perth reaching 3.5 million by 2050. Population Research recommends the McGowan Government adopt the Australian Bureau of Statistics model of 2.7 million people by 2050. This will aid in better managing population growth. And will help prevent unnecessary and hugely disruptive infrastructure projects such as the Joondalup Drive flyover
 PerthNow, ‘McGowan Warns Roe 8 Contractors to Stop’, PerthNow, 2017 <https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/new-wa-premier-mark-mcgowan-warns-roe-8-contractors-to-stop-ng-b197e91f655ad7b087ec6e2a45451479> [accessed 26 August 2020].
 Parliamentary Library Western Australia, Western Australian State Election 2017: Analysis of Results, 2017 <https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/intranet/libpages.nsf/WebFiles/Publications+Antony+Green+2017+election+analysis/$FILE/Publications+Antony+Green+2017+election+analysis.pdf>.
 Mark Gibson, ‘“Monstrosity”: Anger over Plans for $50m Bridge’, The West Australian, 2017 <https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/plans-for-new-50m-flyover-on-wanneroo-road-angers-residents-and-business-owners-ng-b88626405z> [accessed 26 August 2020].
 Queensland Government, Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation, ‘Social Impact Assessment’, 2020 <http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/coordinator-general/strong-and-sustainable-resource-communities/social-impact-assessment.html> [accessed 24 August 2020].
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3222.0 – Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101’, 2008 <https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/FF590BD57662A60BCA257C2E00172359?opendocument> [accessed 28 August 2020].