A second Grafton Bridge crossing across the Clarence River is expected to cost $177 million and be built by 2019.
A second Grafton Bridge crossing across the Clarence River is expected to cost $177 million and be built by 2019.

Crunch time for Grafton Bridge decision

THE community has spoken on a push to build a second Grafton Bridge and the verdict is mostly positive.

Now the long, number-crunching wait begins while the State Government decides if and when the bridge will go ahead.

A total of 22 submissions were received during the project's environmental impact assessment stage.

Documents the State Government released this month revealed landholders still held grave fears about their properties being flooded.

South Grafton man Tony Beadman said his Gwydir Hwy property would be inundated during heavy rain if the bridge's levee bank rose a planned 20cm.

He said the designers had not taken into account the impact on an existing levee at Cowan Creek.

State Government planners said the effect would be minimal.

"Land behind the Cowan Creek levee is already subject to flooding in an event less than a 20-year average recurrence interval flood event," the report stated.

"Based on the flood model, the Cowan Creek levee would overtop about 10 to 15 minutes earlier during a 20-year average recurrence interval flood event."

The owners of 8 Greaves St in Grafton used the public consultation stage to offer their property for sale on land abutting the proposed bridge.

Another commenter supported the project but was concerned the change from four lanes at the bridge approach road to two lanes on the bridge would funnel traffic into a dangerous situation.

"The approaches have four lanes and the bottle neck problem that is experienced now (on the current bridge) will be replicated once the existing bridge is deemed unsafe for traffic," he wrote.

"I have not seen any preventative maintenance carried out on the existing bridge, only reactive.

"I can't see the (existing) bridge lasting more than another 20 years."

Government planners said there were plans in place if population growth made four lanes necessary in the future.

"The overall width of the bridge deck is proposed to be around 16m which enables additional lanes to be catered for should the need arise in the longer term."

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he was due for a briefing on the findings of the environmental impact study in the coming week.

"I'm not aware of any timeframes that are now in place, but as far as I'm concerned, it can't happen soon enough," he said.

"We are always frustrated by delays over the bridge. This will signal a vote of confidence in Grafton."

The project is expected to cost $177 million and be built by 2019.

IN A NUTSHELL

Second river crossing about 70m downstream from existing road and rail bridge

Current bridge will be retained

Widening of Iolanthe St to four lanes

Widening of Gwydir Hwy to four lanes between Bent St and the Pacific Hwy

Realigning Pacific Hwy to join Iolanthe St near Through St

New roundabout at intersection of Gwydir and Pacific Hwys

New roundabout at intersection of Through and Iolanthe Sts

Limiting Spring St and Old Pacific Hwy to "left-in" and "left-out" only where they meet Iolanthe St

Realigning Butters Ln

Widening Pound St to four lanes between Villiers St and the approach to the new bridge

Traffic lights at intersection of Pound and Clarence Sts

Closing Bent St where it is crossed by the new bridge approach road

Realigning and lowering Greaves St beneath the new bridge

Realigning Bridge St to join the southern part of Pound St (no direct connection between Pound St and the new bridge approach)

Widening Clarence St to provide formal parking spaces

Minor modifications to existing Dobie and Villiers Sts roundabouts

Existing rail viaduct section across Pound St replaced by new rail bridge

Pedestrian and cycle paths and signalised pedestrian crossings to provide access to bridge

Flood mitigation works, including raising height of existing levee upstream of existing bridge



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