Drone footage from the 2019 Bridge to Bridge at Grafton.
Drone footage from the 2019 Bridge to Bridge at Grafton.

TIMELINE: Journey to new Grafton bridge

1960

Due to increasing traffic on the Gwydir Highway from the Tablelands, Copmanhurst and Casino roads, a new bridge across Susan Island near Mary Street is proposed.

The plan aims to protect Grafton from flood and enable the conversion of the present Cowan creek area into flood-free residential blocks.

1972

After discussions about locations, Mavis McClymont stresses that the building of a bridge adjacent to the existing one will be unstable as it would create a bottleneck in Bent Street.

Aerial photograph of the construction of the new Grafton bridge taken on 12th March, 2019.
Aerial photograph of the construction of the new Grafton bridge taken on 12th March, 2019. Robin Smith

1973

Council meets with the Department of Main Roads regarding the site of a new bridge upstream of the existing one and joining at Bent/Fitzroy Streets. Five alternatives are proposed including near Seelands and some distance downstream of the bridge.

A year later, a detailed report about the advantages and disadvantages of the Pound and Iolanthe Streets by a city engineer and town planner is presented.

1977

The Daily Examiner reports that plans to build a new bridge are approved, with the new bridge to connect Bent St, South Grafton with Fitzroy St, Grafton.

1985

Despite the Department of Main Roads undertaking surveys and geotechnical investigations, the new bridge is shelved as a long-range proposal.

2001

Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry established a subcommittee to take up the campaign for a new bridge. Members meet with various politicians including Member for Page Ian Causley and Member or Clarence Harry Woods to seek financial support.

2002

Grafton City Council elevates the new Grafton Bridge to number one priority on its Management Plan for 2002/2003 and supports the Chamber of Commerce in its campaign for a new bridge.

The Summerland Way Progress Committee is addressed by Ron Bell and votes to support the construction of a new bridge. MLC Brian Pezzutti and National Party Leader George Souris also offer their support for the campaign.

Several councils, including Richmond Valley, Maclean Shire, Copmanhurst Shire and Pristine Waters vote to support the new bridge.

Grafton bridge.
Grafton bridge. Robin Smith

2003

A feasibility study is conducted by the Roads and Traffic Authority, which leads to then NSW Premier Bob Carr declaring an "iron-clad guarantee" to the construction of the new bridge.

"It is seriously needed," Mr Carr said at the time, but in two short years Mr Carr had been replaced as Premier by Morris Iemma, and the project was again shelved.

2009

The new bridge is given a "green light" from the RTA when a 113-page RTA document, which includes extensive modelling of local traffic conditions over the next 30 years, concluded that taking no action on a second bridge is not an option.

"The conclusions of the modelling exercise are that doing nothing is not an option as it will lead to extended periods across the day where the existing bridge operates at or beyond saturation levels, with unacceptable vehicle delays and queuing," the report's executive summary reads.

"It's pleasing to see the project back on the RTA radar," Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said at the time.

March 2015

The first sod is turned at the new Grafton bridge site, marking the start of early works including the widening of the Gwydir Highway between the Pacific Highway and Bent Street, South Grafton as the road goes from two lanes to four.

 

The old Grafton bridge is well-known for its bends.
The old Grafton bridge is well-known for its bends. Caitlan Charles

WATCH: Take a virtual tour of the new Grafton bridge

April 2015

Questions are raised about the likelihood of the new bridge being completed by 2020 after a presentation by Roads and Maritime Services project services manager Damien Sartori identifies several things that had to be carried out before a solid timeline for the construction of the 10-span bridge could be given.

May 2016

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis announces Fulton Hogan as the preferred tenderer to design and build the long-awaited new Grafton bridge.

October 2016

Fulton Hogan project director Mark Stevenson gives a breakdown of the construction process while presenting at the Grafton Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

READ MORE: Two nations: identifying with land in birth, death

November 2016

Fig trees along Pound Street were cleared in preparation for the expansion of the street for the new bridge.

April 2017

A huge barge spanning close to 50 metres in length enters the Clarence River in anticipation of construction of the new Grafton bridge.

According to a Roads and Maritime Services spokesman, the barge Maeve Anne, made a four- day trip from Sydney ahead of an extensive project specific fit out at Harwood Marine.

May 2017

The arrival of a 275 tonne, 57m tall yellow crane on site on the southern bank of the Clarence River becomes the latest sign of progress toward the construction of the new Grafton bridge.

June 2017

A 48m barge arrives in Grafton for the next phase of construction on the new bridge. Nicknamed 'The Maeve Anne' the barge is used for the installation of bridge foundations, building the bridge piers and installing bridge superstructure segments.

July 2017

Work on one side of the Clarence River on the new Grafton Bridge is temporarily suspended for three weeks due to geotechnical investigations being carried out.

READ MORE: OUR SAY: Good bridge but could be better

August 2017

The first concrete is poured for the new Grafton bridge marine piles. The pour took about six hours to carry out and use around 160 cubic metres of concrete.

September 2017

The road between Pound and Fitzroy streets are closed permanently as work progresses on new Grafton bridge.

October 2017

Clarence Valley residents are invited to attend a community information session about the New Grafton Bridge project. The first pier skirt is placed over the piles on the new Grafton Bridge.

June 2018

Fulton Hogan NSW operations manager and project director Richard Petaccia reveals how the new Grafton bridge will come together.

December 2018

More than 100 of the 176 precast segments required for the bridge have been made and are ready to be moved into place in the coming weeks.

Pairs of concrete that will connect the bridge together are added to pier three, the second pier in the water off the southern bank.

January 2019

A new access road linking the South Grafton business precinct on Iolanthe St to the Pacific Highway opens to traffic.

May 2019

The first set of traffic lights in the Clarence Valley at the corner of Clarence and Pound streets are completed, ready to be switched on when the project is finished.

Construction of the bridge reaches the halfway point.

June 2019

The rail bridge at Pound st was replaced in a three-day window as part of the new Grafton bridge project, with the new span allowing a five metre clearance for trucks.

 

August 2019

The final precast segment of the new Grafton bridge was lifted into place, signalling the final stages of construction.

Work started to improve the roundabout at the intersection of Villiers and Pound streets, including replacing sections of the roundabout and widening the road.

October 2019 

The bridge is on track to open at the end of the year, with asphalting, commissioning the pump station and traffic lights, installing noise wall panels and street lighting and river navigation lighting among the final pieces to complete in the next couple of months. 

As part of the new Grafton bridge project, a proposed directional signage plan has been developed for the project. This plan is now on display for the public to view and provide feedback by Friday, November 8, 2019.
As part of the new Grafton bridge project, a proposed directional signage plan has been developed for the project. This plan is now on display for the public to view and provide feedback by Friday, November 8, 2019. Transport NSW - RMS

November 2019

As part of the new Grafton bridge project, a proposed directional signage plan has been developed for the project. This plan is now on display for the public to view and provide feedback by Friday, November 8, 2019.

December 2019

The community are invited to walk across the bridge before it is opened to traffic.

After decades of lobbying, planning and then building, the new Grafton bridge opens to traffic.



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