Truckies snubbed on bridge survey

THE final 15 minutes of yesterday afternoon’s community consultation on a second Grafton bridge turned into a disaster for the RTA’s PR machine.

Having fielded a torrent of questions about postal surveys, preferred routes, planning stages and alike – nothing could prepare RTA staff for the fireworks triggered by a question from Grafton resident and Concerned Citizen’s Group member Lynne Cairns.

Referring to the RTA’s much-vaunted “Heavy Vehicle Traffic Survey”, which it plans to release within weeks, Mrs Cairns said she had spoken to four of the major transport companies in Grafton and not one had been spoken to by the RTA, let alone asked to fill out the relevant questionnaire.

Mrs Cairns called the four companies back yesterday afternoon after the first meeting (a second one began at 6pm) and confirmed they had not been surveyed. The companies were identified as Cromack Transport, Blanchards, Bloomers and McLennan. Mrs Cairns said she also called Pearsons Transport yesterday afternoon and they hadn’t been contacted either.

Chris McDonald, from Buckgrove Haulage, attended the meeting yesterday but confirmed his company, which makes up to eight crossings of the Grafton Bridge in busy times (on the beer run), had not been contacted by the RTA for its Heavy Vehicle Traffic Survey.

At the meeting RTA representatives, including assistant project manager Chris Clark, appeared to be stuck for answers to this line of questioning.

“I have no ability to respond to that question at this time ... the trucking industry is an important part of the consultation process,” Mr Clark said.

Later at a media conference, project manager Bob Higgins, who is also the general manager of the Pacific Highway upgrade, said he would have to “double check” the survey method, but he was confident the transport industry had been consulted for the survey.

The two-hour meeting, the first of two scheduled for yesterday, looked over a summary of a postal survey conducted on the issue earlier this year.

A considerable number of key issues were identified in the 435 submissions received, but the RTA had not finalised the report or identified the most “popular” choice or route for a second crossing.

The final report, Mr Clark said, would be available by the end of the month.

Attendees at the meeting were shown a map with 28 community suggestions plus the current “official options”. The meeting also discussed the potential content and methodology of the upcoming phone survey.

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