New Majura Parkway bridge over Molonglo River to be named after Malcolm Fraser
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New Majura Parkway bridge over Molonglo River to be named after Malcolm Fraser

Known in history as a moderate bridge between the radical social reforms of the Whitlam era and the radical economic reforms of the Hawke-Keating era, Malcolm Fraser will now be immortalised by a bridge over the Molonglo River.

The key piece of infrastructure on the new Majura Parkway will officially take its name from the 22nd prime minister of Australia from Friday, as the final section of the eastern bypass of the city opens early.

Tamie Fraser, wife of the late Malcolm Fraser, walks along the Malcolm Fraser Bridge and chats to Senator Zed Seselja and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr during its official opening.

Tamie Fraser, wife of the late Malcolm Fraser, walks along the Malcolm Fraser Bridge and chats to Senator Zed Seselja and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr during its official opening.Credit:Graham Tidy

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the completion of the largest infrastructure project in the territory's history, combined with the launch of the Capital Express flights to Singapore later in the year, will open up Canberra as a viable alternative to Sydney for freight into South-East Asia.

"Our freight objectives are to first get back a slice of the market that's currently lost to Sydney but we're looking to grow the freight distribution not just within two hours of Canberra but four to six hours," Mr Barr said.

Tamie Fraser poses for a photo on the bridge with her daughter, Phoebe Wynn-Pope, friend Dimity Davy, grandson Sandy Marshall, taken by daughter, Angela Marshall,..

Tamie Fraser poses for a photo on the bridge with her daughter, Phoebe Wynn-Pope, friend Dimity Davy, grandson Sandy Marshall, taken by daughter, Angela Marshall,..Credit:Graham Tidy

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"We think the timing of the Singapore Airlines flight in particular with the 11.30pm departure means the freight could arrive as late as 9pm in Canberra and get on that flight into South-East Asia the next day, that's a significant advantage over Sydney with its curfew and all of the congestion around Kingsford Smith so a real opportunity for Canberra region."

The $288 million dual carriageway has been on the cards for the territory since the 1970s.

The 11.5-kilometre parkway, which links the Monaro Highway to the Federal Highway, includes 3.5 metre traffic lanes, seven bridges, three underpasses for stock and wildlife and an off-road shared user path for pedestrians, cyclists and horses which runs along its entire length.

ACT Senator Zed Seselja said the faster commute times were something more Canberrans would appreciate.

Hard hats for hard heads: Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam at the opening of a BHP steel mill in Geelong in 1974.

Hard hats for hard heads: Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam at the opening of a BHP steel mill in Geelong in 1974.Credit:John Lamb

A trip that used to take up to 20 minutes on the old Majura Road should now take around seven minutes on the Majura Parkway.

"As someone who lives at the southern part of Canberra but represents all of Canberra, getting from one end of my electorate to another will be much easier now."

Senator Seselja said the bridge was a fitting tribute to "a great servant of our nation".

"Of course we ordinarily honour them with suburbs but Jim Fraser has taken that honour already so this is a great way to honour a very significant Australian," Senator Seselja said.

Unveiling a plaque on the new bridge with her husband's name on it, Mr Fraser's widow Tamie​ Fraser said she wouldn't have "missed this for quids".

Her voice wavered as she paid tribute to her late husband.

"My old boy's bridging efforts had a few holes in them at times but his core purpose in life and much of his legacy was to endeavour to bridge the many differences both national and international at many levels that he encountered over a long life in the public arena," Mrs Fraser said.

In an aside about the members from both side of federal and politics in attendance, the chief minister noted wryly that Mrs Fraser's observations about bridges and bridge building were on point.

"It's worth reminding everyone that the project was announced and funded by the Gillard government but it continued along [under the Coalition], they kept and honoured the contract that had been entered into," Mr Barr said.

In a not-so-subtle reference to the ACT government's light rail project, the chief minister made "one other observation":

"I haven't had that many people complain about the government investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a roads project, and that makes hundreds of billions of dollars we've invested in road projects in the last decade or so," he said.

"It's fine to invest in transport infrastructure and my government will continue to do so."

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.