About this project
Currently, the Grafton Bridge is the only crossing of the Clarence River in the Grafton area. The bridge forms part of the Summerland Way, a classified road that provides an inland link between southern Queensland to the north, and the Richmond River and Clarence River Valleys in northern NSW.
The Grafton Bridge was open to traffic in 1932 and currently carries about 23,000 vehicles over the river each day.
The current bridge is already operating at capacity during peak periods and forecast traffic growth will worsen congestion problems. Traffic queues during am peak periods flow from the bridge onto the Gwydir Highway and often backs onto the existing Pacific Highway.
The new crossing will connect the Pacific and Gwydir highways at South Grafton with Villiers Street in Grafton, via Pound Street.
Planning for an additional crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton was initially funded by the NSW Government, starting from 2002. Investigations were deferred in September 2005 and restarted in 2009.
In December 2010 Roads and Maritime Services announced a revised approach to engage more effectively with the community and stakeholders in identifying a preferred route for an additional crossing. Between December 2010 and April 2013 a thorough route options selection process was carried out including detailed investigations, traffic and flood modelling and extensive community consultation.
An environmental impact statement was publically displayed from 20 August to 19 September 2014. Following the display, 22 submissions were received on the project. A report responding to these submissions is available on the project documents page.
In December 2014, the project received planning approval.
As part of planning approvals, the project sought approval to start a number of early work activities during 2015, including geotechnical field investigations, flood studies and mitigation work and the Charles Street (Gwydir Highway) upgrade.
Charles Street early work started in February 2015 to address existing traffic issues around the intersection of the Gwydir and Pacific highway (at Charles Street).
The work includes widening 200m of the Gwydir Highway from the Pacific Highway to Bent Street to four lanes, to deliver immediate benefits to peak traffic queues at the southern end of the project. This work is expected to be complete by late 2015.
Project purpose and objectives
The project purpose is to identify an additional crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton to address short-term and long-term transport needs.
Enhance road safety for all road users over the length of the project
- Reduce the potential for road crashes and injuries on the bridge and approaches including any intersections and connecting roads
- Provide safe facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
Improve traffic efficiency between and within Grafton and South Grafton
- Provide efficient access for a second crossing of the Clarence River and for the State road network
- Provide a traffic management network which reduces delays between Grafton and South Grafton in peak periods to an acceptable level of service for 30 years after opening
- Provide adequate vertical clearance for heavy vehicles
- Consider demand management strategies to minimise delays to local and through traffic.
Support regional and local economic development
- Provide transport solutions that complement existing and future land uses and support development opportunities
- Provide improved opportunities for economic and tourist development for Grafton
- Provide for commercial transport including B-doubles where required
- Provide flood immunity for the bridge for a 1 in 100 year flood event, and for the approach roads for a 1 in 20 year flood event, where economically justified
- Provide navigational clearance from the additional crossing for river users.
Involve all stakeholders and consider their interests
- Develop solutions that consider community expectations for the project
- Satisfy the technical and procedural requirements of Roads and Maritime Services with respect to the planning and design of the project
- Integrate input from the community into the development of the project through the implementation of a comprehensive program of community consultation and participation.
Provide value for money
- Achieve a justifiable benefit/cost ratio at an affordable cost
- Develop a strategy to integrate future upgrades into the project.
Minimise impact on the environment
- Minimise the impact on the social and economic environment, including property impacts
- Minimise the impact on residential amenity, including noise, vibration, air quality etc
- Minimise the impact on heritage
- Minimise impact on the natural environment
- Provide a project that fits sensitively into the built, natural and community context
- Minimise flooding impact caused by the project.