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Great divide over bridge

THE three interest groups who emerged at Tuesday night's forum on the new Grafton bridge have revealed deep divisions in the community about a preferred site.

But as portions of the community find their voice, project director Bob Higgins from Roads and Maritime Services warned that the time was looming in which someone had to "make a decision".

"It was not our intention to split the community," he told the forum. "There will be no perfect answer.

"Rest assured, and I'm not sure how I can assure you, there is no preferred option - all six options are on the table and we want the community comment on these six options."

Mr Higgins, who is also the project director of the Pacific Hwy upgrade, outlined the next step of the process - a value management workshop to run over three sessions between October 16 and 24.

He said the RMS was looking for representatives of each of the areas impacted by the bridge plus a regular bridge user and other stakeholders to participate in the workshop.

The workshop, he said, would attempt to understand all the issues and try to achieve compromise and balance in deciding on a preferred option.

In regards to the cost of the options, Mr Higgins said it was more about value than cost.

 

The experts

Earlier in Tuesday night's forum, experts on noise, traffic, flooding, ecology and heritage ran through each of the six options.

ARUP traffic engineer Gerard Cavanagh said traffic was attracted to the key activity centres of Grafton and South Grafton.

He said heavy vehicles represented about 15% of Pacific Hwy traffic and only 2% of Villiers St traffic.

For the purposes of modelling, the RMS explained, the build date for the bridge was assumed at 2019 and would be designed to service the area for 30 years to 2049.

He said the predicted population growth of the greater Grafton area would go from 18,883 in 2011 to 30,330 in 2049. Traffic movements across the bridge in that time would go from 4100 a day to 8000.

Hydrologist Sharon Wallace told the forum that minor levee raising would be proposed to cope with any obstructions created by any of the new options.

She said a proposed 10cm rise was proposed for between 10-20km of levee wall depending on which option was selected.

Significant local drainage infra- structure would be required for many of the in-town options.

 

The groups

Amy Morgan told the forum she represented the people of South Grafton who had barely been heard in the debate thus far.

Ms Morgan said a bridge anywhere but in town would be under-utilised.

Richard Green spoke on behalf of the No Grafton Bridge Downriver group and is a resident of the new estate near Corcoran Park.

"Options 14 and 15 are much more expensive, $100m more for half the usage," he said.

He said the 17-metre height of these options would have a negative impact on tourism in Corcoran Park and the structure would create flooding issues.

"If you put a constraint downriver it will effect a lot of people up river," he said.

Concerned Citizens Group representative Mick Hillery said every other town in NSW was trying to get traffic away from its CBD and Grafton should be no different.

Topics:  community forum, grafton bride, roads and maritime services


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