Roads engineer Bob Cairns looks over paperwork regarding the second crossing of the Clarence River.
Roads engineer Bob Cairns looks over paperwork regarding the second crossing of the Clarence River.

Public snubbed by RTA

AMID the mountain of paperwork Bob Cairns has sifted through on his campaign against the RTA’s proposed locations for a new Grafton bridge is repeated evidence, he says, of a complete snubbing of public opinion.

And history, said the former Clarence River County Council engineer, is repeating itself.

A survey of 400 people in 2004 revealed 97 per cent of respondents did not want a bridge feeding into the Grafton CBD road network.

The survey, conducted by the Grafton Bridge community focus group, which has now been disbanded, found 78.5 per cent of people wanted a bridge downstream of the current bridge – ‘with improved access to Clarenza, the new education campuses and the Lower Clarence area’.

Daily Examiner articles from 2004 show:

 The RTA did not consult with the community consultation group before it reduced its seven bridge options, including four options which took traffic out of the CBD, to three options – all bringing traffic into town.

 Members described the RTA’s consultation as a ‘charade of procedure’ and one member, mechanical engineer Brian Scrivener, went on to resign in disgust.

 A two-day workshop then determined a bridge directly downstream from the current one was the preferred option from the three presented.

And, Mr Cairns said, the RTA has not provided the results of its own public opinion survey conducted in 2004 despite repeated requests from the Concerned Citizens of Grafton group.

Mr Cairns has consulted on major infrastructure on the Northern Rivers, including roads and bridges.

He said the RTA was continuing unhinged on its mission to place a new bridge into the Grafton CBD despite clear public opposition and sound concerns over traffic, heritage and noise issues.

Mr Cairns said his Bacon Street home would not be demolished under the current ‘preferred’ option (D) but the noise from braking trucks would be ‘horrendous’.

“It would be highly unlikely they would get an EIS (environmental impact statement) through the Department of Planning,” he said.

“They have not adequately looked at other options.”

Mr Cairns said most people in the effected ‘grey study area’ missed the initial letter from the RTA which arrived in the mail ‘with the Christmas junk mail’ on December 23 last year.

“But even then, options C and D were not mentioned.”

“We get a letter and a glossy leaflet mentioning options C and D the week before the public information nights and about five weeks before submissions close – it’s just not enough time, we are just uncovering stuff about the process now.”



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