Council bridging the gap

SEVERAL Clarence Valley councillors have come out of the closet with their preferred location of a new Clarence River crossing, while three are sitting on the fence, one refused to comment and two could not be contacted yesterday.

Deputy mayor Craig Howe and councillors Sue Hughes, Jim Simmons and Karen Toms are all in favour of the new Grafton bridge being located out of town.

Cr Howe said he intended raising a motion in council on the issue in the near future in order to establish council’s position.

Mayor Richie Williamson said he would support whichever option the community supported or “the popular choice as determined by the processes that are in place”.

Councillor Ian Dinham said councillors had a duty to look at all sides of the debate before making their decisions.

He said they should await the outcome of the “elaborate and expensive process” being undertaken by the RTA”.

Pushed as to whether he supported an in-town or out-of-town option, Cr Dinham said there were advantages and disadvantages to both.

Councillor Margaret McKenna said she needed more information from the RTA before deciding.

“I don’t believe the council’s opinion is going to make any difference to the RTA’s decision,” she said.

Cr Ian Tiley said he did not wish to comment on the issue but indicated he would present a proposal to April’s council meeting.

Cr Pat Comben could not be contacted.

The Daily Examiner received two letters on Wednesday, the day after the Concerned Citizens Group’s presentation to council after its full meeting. One letter was from Cr Howe and the other from Cr Hughes – both in support of a new bridge away from the centre of Grafton.

The letters, which will be published in full in The Examiner in the next few days, both support the RTA’s Option M, which crosses the river at Elizabeth Island and travels up Grafton’s North St until it hits the Summerland Way.

Cr Howe explained in the letter that council’s request to the RTA to expand its study zone – which was at the time restricted to an area near the current bridge – had led to the RTA changing its scope.

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