The North Lake Road bridge was opened to traffic on Wednesday, marking the end of more than half a decade of major roadworks in the congested Cockburn area.
Since 2014, city commuters heading through Cockburn and surrounding suburbs have been slowed by two freeway widening projects, the upgrade of the Roe Highway interchange and works on Armadale Road.
The freeway 80 zones continued in 2019 when work began on the North Lake Road bridge.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the $259 million bridge and associated works east of the freeway were the “last piece of the jigsaw puzzle” for the area.
“The majority of the roadworks have been done I think there’s been four major road projects delivered in the southern corridor,” she said.
“The City of Cockburn is set to boom over the next decade, so it’s important we are building the infrastructure we need for tomorrow.
“This project combined with the Kwinana Freeway upgrades, the recently opened Karel Avenue, the Armadale Road upgrades and the future Metronet Thornlie-Cockburn link, will make a big difference every day for commuters.”
The Kwinana Freeway-Armadale Road bridge is one of the most congested intersections in Perth with more than 55,000 vehicles using it daily.
The North Lake Road bridge was expected to ease pressure on that bridge by diverting east-west traffic out of the Cockburn Central area.
The final leg of Armadale Road has also been upgraded with a new bridge removing traffic from the Tapper Road intersection and a trench structure will remove traffic from the Solomon Road intersection.
The project will also erase any memories of half-hour waits to exit the Cockburn Central train station car park, with three more exits available in an upgraded 1100-bay car park.
The WA government funded $51.8 million for the project, while the federal government coughed up $207. 2 million.
The ribbon-cutting was welcome news to Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett, who together with the City of Armadale leveraged the Canning by-election and change of state government to push for both upper-tier governments to fund the project.
The joint Community Connect South campaign was launched in 2015 ahead of the Canning by-election to push for the Armadale Road widening and North Lake Road bridge, with both councils fearing the existing east-to-west road networks would not be able to handle booming population growth in the region.
“Together with the City of Armadale, Cockburn pushed very strongly, we lobbied the federal and state government, and we’re very pleased to say that finally, this project has now come to fruition,” he said.
Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher said the project would relieve congestion in Perth’s southern suburbs.
“By alleviating congestion through important projects like this one, we’re helping people to get home to their families sooner and safer, we’re helping freight move more quickly between our cities, and we’re generating jobs across the country.”
Commuters are not entirely free of 80 zones on the freeway yet. Work on the Thornlie to Cockburn train link still requires a diversion of traffic.
The state is gearing up for the longest consecutive closure of the Mandurah line in its history to complete work on the Thornlie to Cockburn link.
Trains between Aubin Grove and Elizabeth Quay stations will be cancelled from Boxing Day until January 14.
Ms Saffioti said the state made the decision to have a short, but significant shutdown, rather than having lots of shutdowns over the next year.