John Melanhorst makes a point at the bridge meeting.
John Melanhorst makes a point at the bridge meeting.

Traffic congestion fears

ALL four of the proposed Grafton bridge routes are flawed because they make the same mistake as the original bridge opened in 1932, it was claimed yesterday.

Grafton resident Don McLeod told an RTA information session the proposed routes send traffic into Grafton’s CBD and will cause congestion.

Mr McLeod was one of several people who objected to the second crossing on this basis.

But this, said a team of RTA spokespeople, was precisely the plan – one based on traffic flow surveys which showed the overwhelming majority of traffic movements across the bridge were bound for the immediate areas of Grafton or South Grafton.

About 80 people attended the morning information session and a night session was also held.

Quoting the traffic modelling survey, which was conducted in January this year, project manager Stephen Williamson said the current bridge hosted an average 27,000 vehicle movements per day which was over capacity.

Some 53 per cent of these, Mr Williamson said, were trips made from outside the area to the areas of Grafton or South Grafton.

A further 45 per cent of the trips were from Grafton to South Grafton or vice versa and a mere two per cent of the movements were external to external movements where the vehicles did not stop in Grafton or South.

Mr Williamson said growth projections meant daily bridge crossings would increase to 50,000 in 20-30 years.

Fielding several inquiries about the crossing being moved to Dobie Street, Turf Street or North Street, Mr Williamson stated emphatically that no option would be considered outside the grey study area because of previous work which proved any new crossing needed to be located near the current bridge.

Ted Conderman of Victoria Street, Grafton, said most places in Australia were trying to divert traffic from towns but Grafton would be clogging up the city streets with traffic, especially considering the projected growth of Junction Hill.

Another resident, who supported an ‘out of town’ option, said traffic would go wherever the road was built so why not build it out of town?

An RTA representative acknowledged this was true but an ‘out of town’ option would not be the most efficient use of resources.

Other residents were assured that a heritage study would be undertaken on any seriously proposed route, and if acquisitions took place, the market value of their property, unaffected by the bridge proposal, would be paid under the Land Acquisition Act (Just Terms Compensation) 1991.

Addressing concerns the RTA’s action was premature considering the bridge was not funded and funding had not been promised, communications manager Sonia George said the current investigations had been funded which was a good indication there was interest in the project at a high level.

Though he would not be drawn on a precise width of the proposed corridor or where it would ‘hit ground level’ on the Grafton side, Mr Williamson said a four-lane main road may be the width of Fitzroy Street and the RTA would probably acquire enough room for four lanes to allow for future growth.

Grafton real estate agent Kim Dahl questioned the point of next week’s workshops.

“It seems you’ve pretty well made up your minds,” he said.

This was denied by an RTA representative who said though option D was the best outcome on a traffic modelling basis, there were still important considerations such as environmental and social impacts.

TRAFFIC OVER GRAFTON BRIDGE

  •  27,000 traffic movements per day as of January 2010. Closer to 30,000 when the highway is closed.
  •  On current estimates, this is expected to reach 50,000 in 20 to 30 years.
  •  External to internal bridge trips (out of area to local) – 12,219 per day (53 per cent).
  •  Internal to internal bridge trips (local to local) – 10,462 per day (45 per cent).
  •  External to external (where no local stops are made) – 533 trips per day (2 per cent).

Info from RTA information session, Grafton Community Centre, March 3.



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