Public opinion divided on bridge
IT appears a preferred crossing option of the Clarence River may be getting further away as 28 new “suggestions” have been drawn on the map in addition to the 13 RTA options in place.
The RTA now has the arduous task of narrowing these options down to one so an environmental impact study can be done, land can be acquired and funding secured for a second Grafton bridge.
Though the RTA printed a “summary of responses” to the recent postal survey (435 submissions), it claimed at Thursday’s meeting it had not identified the most “popular” choice.
Project manager Chris Clark said this information may be available by the end of the month when staff had finalised the results of the survey.
However, the survey failed to ask the public directly which option they preferred.
Below are the questions and some of the key responses as identified by the RTA.
1. What do you think are the most important issues when planning a second crossing?
Below are some of the key issues identified by the public in response the first question.
Build the bridge now and give the community certainty.
Ensure the project plans for the future and the second crossing is in the best position for current and future traffic needs.
Minimise impact on residential areas: noise, visual amenity and quality of life.
Consider sensitive heritage issues both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
Avoid bringing unnecessary traffic into the CBD, especially heavy vehicles.
Utilise existing infrastructure; locate the second crossing to maximise the efficiency of the existing network between the Gwydir Highway, Summerland Way and Pacific Highway.
Cater for the increasing number of commuter and heavy vehicle traffic – including proposed developments such as Trans Regional.
Resolve traffic congestion around peak traffic periods (8-9am and 3-6pm).
Emergency vehicles need more reliable access.
2. What are the areas to avoid and why?
Minimise the impact on heritage and environmentally sensitive areas.
Avoid flood prone areas; concerns were raised about the viability of downriver options identified in
the December 2010 community update.
Avoid tree-lined streets.
Protect the existing bridge as it is an historically significant structure.
Avoid traffic being funnelled into the CBD, especially heavy vehicles; traffic congestion in the town
centre needs to be minimised.
Diverting traffic away from the CBD area may adversely impact on businesses.
Diverting traffic away from the CBD would not utilise existing infrastructure and may not address
existing traffic congestion.
3. In addition to those shown on the map in the brochure, are there other options for the second crossing that could be considered and why? Use the map provided to draw your suggestion.
Options from Seelands to Tyndale were proposed by residents and respondents. However, the majority of the options suggested were variations of the 13 options (Option A to M) described in the December 2010 community update.
Comments varied widely regarding the preferred location for the second river crossing. Each of the suggestions shown in the December 2010 community update attracted some level of support and comment.
Option M generated significant interest – both supporting and opposing this suggestion.
Some key issues identified were:
Consider keeping the current bridge for the local traffic/second bridge crossing for external traffic.
Consider traffic being “one way” across the existing bridge and then the second river crossing.
Route suggestions (J to M) as shown in the December 2010 community update were positively considered as it is believed these options would reduce traffic congestion in the Grafton CBD.
Some respondents suggested an additional option located to the east of Elizabeth Island with connections to the Pacific Highway.
4. Are there any other issues you would like to raise?
The efficiency of school routes needs to be investigated – with many local schools moving out of the CBD area, will the existing bridge continue to be the most efficient bus route?
Diverting heavy vehicle traffic may ease traffic issues, in particular on the existing bridge; however it may not address the traffic congestion experienced during peak periods.
Options should not bypass the town, rather a second crossing should accommodate and decongest the local traffic.
If out of town options are considered, feeder roads and traffic calming may be necessary to prevent “rat runs”.
Recent flooding has highlighted the need to construct the second crossing in locations that are “flood proof”.
Closing or restricting access from local streets onto the existing bridge could make a positive difference.
Increased traffic on the Summerland Way will need to come through the town via the heavy vehicle route along Villiers Street; increasing the adverse impact on local residents.
The future Pacific Highway bypass of Grafton needs to be considered when identifying the most appropriate location for the second river crossing.
Second bridge should be high enough for yachts to be able to pass underneath.
Don’t take the cheap option; need the best option for the future.
Though the RTA printed a “summary of responses” to the recent postal survey, it claimed at Thursday’s meeting it had not identified the most “popular” choice.