ALP's bridge too far away irks MP

THE RTA announcement that the consultation process for a second Grafton bridge is about to reopen has drawn a sceptical response from the NSW Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell.

“It’s a lot of drivel,” Mr Cansdell said.

“The site was selected six years ago. They said it was to be downstream of the current bridge, as close to it as possible.

“They (the RTA) own a lot of the land, so there was a minimum of houses they would have to buy up.”

Mr Cansdell said the timing of the announcement had the hallmarks of an election stunt.

“They announce that they will be reaching a decision at the end of next year, just before the 2011 election,” he said.

“It’s so easy to be cynical about it.”

Unlike the Labor Party, Mr Cansdell could not give a guarantee the Coalition would rubber stamp bridge construction.

“Until we get hold of the treasury and can see how bad the state of the economy really is, I can’t realistically say we are going to guarantee $100 million for a new bridge,” Mr Cansdell said.

“It will be a high priority for me. But I don’t want to be a Bob Carr who gives an ‘ironclad guarantee’ I can’t live up to.”

Despite his scepticism, Mr Cansdell would be delighted if the announcement was the first step towards a second Grafton bridge.

“There’s no doubt we need a second bridge here,” he said.

“It’s a vital requirement for the continued growth of the region to be able to handle the growth of transport in the region.

“The good thing about this announcement is that it brings the need for a new bridge back onto the agenda.”

Mr Cansdell predicted that a second bridge will boost tourist traffic down the Summerland Way through Grafton.

“It’s already a popular tourist route and if the route through Grafton improved, more people would use it,” he said.

Mr Cansdell was also worried that an accident on the existing

bridge could create a problem for emergency services personnel.

“About six weeks to two months ago we had the situation of an accident on the bridge,” he said.

“The bridge was blocked for some time and it was just an accident involving a car and a motorbike.

“If there were two trucks involved or people trapped in cars, the bridge could be blocked for hours.”

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