Shovel work begins on new Grafton bridge project
SHOVELS hit the dirt today on the site of the new Grafton bridge, marking the beginning of a build that has been a long time in the making.
Minister for Roads Duncan Gay said the turning of the first sod on the new Grafton bridge was an important symbol for the community.
"It's a pretty special day to finally do it, to be part of delivering something that this community has wanted for a long time and frankly got sceptical it would ever happen," Mr Gay said.
"So many false starts and so many glossy brochures, now it's finally here."
Mr Gay commended the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and the council for the way they went about campaigning for a new bridge.
"The non-confrontational, sensible way really writes the book for other communities," he said.
"They didn't ever give up and they kept lobbying."
"It's an important piece of work but it's a large amount of money and it's probably why governments have shied away from it in the past."
Mr Gay said the new bridge would make a huge difference to the community.
"It will unite the community, south and north Grafton, it will be a safer community, it will be a better community," he said.
"I'm pretty lucky to be a part of this today."
The Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, said the current bridge's expiry date had come and gone.
"It will still play a role in our transport options but this new bridge will provide us with terrific traffic flow, safe traffic flow, alternative options, options for heavy transport," he said.
"It will create confidence in Grafton and it won't be just the jobs created through construction, it will be an ongoing, it will be ongoing jobs created because people have confidence in Grafton.
"The new bridge increases capacity of the crossing and is vital for over 27,000 motorists travelling between Grafton and South Grafton every day, as well as the freight industry along Summerland Way."
The new bridge is set to be completed in 2019.