Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis. Adam Hourigan

Plans for Gwydir Hwy upgrade to make Grafton a transport hub

A PROPOSAL to upgrade the Clarence Valley's link to the Northern Tablelands has been gaining traction in the corridors of Parliament House, Sydney, says the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.

Mr Gulaptis said he has been discussing a proposal to upgrade the Gwydir Highway between Grafton and Glen Innes with the Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, with a view to forming transport hubs at either end.

"We're about to have an upgrade north-south link with the Pacific Highway, so having an east-west link to the Tablelands is the obvious next step," Mr Gulaptis said.

"When I began discussing it with the Member for Northern Tablelands, he thought it was a great idea."

The pair has presented their idea to State Minister for Roads Duncan Gay, who has encouraged them to work on it.

Mr Gulaptis said there was also money available for regional projects from the Rebuilding NSW funds available after the decision to lease the state's electricity poles and wire network.

The plan has set aside $4.1 billion for regional transport projects.

"It's a regional project, which is an ideal place to spend the poles and wire money," Mr Gulaptis said

Mr Gulaptis said the project to upgrade the highway and develop a transport hub in the Clarence Valley was also a fit with the need to create sustainable industry in the region after the construction phase of the Pacific Highway and Grafton bridge projects.

He said the east-west link would complete the requirements for a transport hub near Grafton, where road, rail and air links were all close by as well as suitable, available land.

He did not rule out including the Port of Yamba, but said there were still issues to consider there.

The President of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Phil Belletty, said creating a transport hub at Grafton was a strategic plan the chamber and Mr Gulaptis have been considering.

"I don't want to speak for any of the transport companies in Grafton, but creating a north-south, east-west hub, would be a natural fit for them," he said.

"When we have these major road arteries, we're close to the Port of Brisbane, and we also have Yamba and the regional airport."

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