'Put bridge out of CBD'
THE NSW election may be over but the issue of a second Grafton bridge is still a hot agenda item.
A number of Clarence Valley councillors have put their names to a notice of motion to be put to the council's civil and corporate committee meeting in Maclean tomorrow.
The motion, titled “Reduction in movement of heavy vehicles in Grafton city central business district”, was initiated by councillor Ian Tiley.
It proposes three things: that the council conveys to the NSW Minister for Roads, the Member for Clarence and the RTA that it remains strongly supportive of the urgent need for a second Clarence River crossing; that the council supports out-of-town options; and that the council only supports a route that does not allow heavy vehicles to travel through the Grafton CBD.
The motion asserts the use of the existing Grafton bridge by heavy vehicle transport has been steadily increasing over the years.
“As we know, the passage of such vehicles through the CBD of Grafton has had many unwanted and negative impacts on city life,” the motion states.
“The eventual additional bridge crossing, if located in proximity to our regional city CBD, would very obviously exacerbate the present problems.
“Whilst not wishing to interfere with the current RTA consultation process,” the motion continues, “the signatories to this motion believe that it is time for Clarence Valley Council to show leadership, make its view known publicly, take a stand as leaders of our local community, and clearly stipulate that council would not support another bridge crossing in the city which had the effect of proliferating the use of inner city streets and exacerbating the existing bottlenecks caused substantially by passage of heavy vehicles.”
Cr Tiley was unavailable to speak with The Daily Examiner yesterday but deputy mayor Craig Howe, who is supporting Cr Tiley's motion, said the motion was similar to one recently put forward by himself.
“I wanted the RTA to have a look at options other than just in town,” Cr Howe said.
“The RTA's done that, to their credit, so this (motion) is just strengthening it up.”
Cr Howe said he didn't have a fixed idea on how far out of town the bridge should be, but said it needed to be close to Grafton.
“We can compare it to the city if we want, but there's no point because to drive an extra two or three kilometres here is annoying, whereas in Sydney it's not,” he said.
“It's got to be something that makes town still accessible and makes people happy to use it as an alternate route.”
Six of the nine councillors' names appear at the bottom of the motion.
They include Ian Tiley, Craig Howe, Jim Simmons, Karen Toms, Sue Hughes and Margaret McKenna.
However, Cr McKenna said although she supported the basic principle of the motion, she did not authorise her name to appear at the bottom of the document.
She said her concern was the second of the three points that referred to council supporting an out-of-town option, a description she said was “too vague” to appropriately identify a suitable location for a second bridge.
“I'm certainly not going to support anything that's out of the Grafton town boundaries,” she said.
Cr McKenna also expressed concerns about the motivation of the Grafton Concerned Citizens Group.
“A significant majority of the people I speak with do not agree with the approach taken by the Concerned Citizens Group in Grafton,” she said.
“They are asking who is in the group – having only seen four or five surnames in letters to the editor – and wonder what else are they concerned with in Grafton.”
Cr McKenna said most people she spoke with had faith in the RTA process.
“When I ask people why they are not writing (letters) to the editor and going public, they say they believe in the process the RTA are following,” she said.
“This RTA process should be allowed to proceed without emotional intervention at this stage.
“I do not want to see congestion in the CBD, but if the objective at the moment is to reduce congestion on our bridge and improve safety issues, the new bridge cannot be built any further upstream than where it's located at the moment, and probably no further downstream than Dobie St.
“Otherwise it will not solve the current problem.
“South Grafton, Waterview, Seelands, Coutts Crossing, Glenreagh – all travellers from the Pacific Highway south – will not use a bridge in North St if they are travelling to Grafton.”
Tomorrow's council committee meeting starts at 2pm.