Grafton bridge will lead to ‘boom’: Gulaptis
AFTER years of promises and planning, construction work has finally started on the second bridge over the Clarence River in Grafton.
A shovel-toting Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis turned the first sod yesterday, with Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay by his side.
"This is the project people said wouldn't happen - the soothsayers who don't believe anything happens. Well, it is happening," Mr Gay said.
"The big plus is going to come at the end. That's where the big kick will happen to Grafton - when it is finished."
The first stages of widening the Gwydir Hwy between the Pacific Hwy and Bent St, South Grafton, have already started, and will double the width of the road from two lanes to four.
Mr Gulaptis said the State Government's $200 million funding for the works had paid off.
"We have waited years for a bridge that was promised but never delivered," Mr Gulaptis said.
"But through the hard work of Des Harvey and the Chamber of Commerce, the Nationals are able to deliver on a promise we made before the last election.
"It's going to offer better transport options for business and save the community from congestion.
"This will certainly stimulate the local employment industry and, jobs-wise, it will bring prosperity into Grafton."
Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said it signalled the end of decades of campaigning and the start of an overdue boom.
"Today, it's a great day. The council has long been an advocate for a second crossing of the Clarence," Mayor Williamson said.
"It is a big victory for the community. It's been decades of lobbying and it is a great shot in the arm for a community that has long held this project important.
"There will be a big economic development to come out of this. To have $200 million spent within 800m of the South Grafton CBD, and within 1km of the Grafton CBD, will have a massive spin-off for local businesses - and boy they need it."