About this project

Project information

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.

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.

Early work to upgrade Charles Street (Gwydir Highway) between the Pacific Highway and Bent Street to four lanes started in February 2015 and was completed in October 2015. The project upgraded the section of road between the Pacific Highway and the Bent Street roundabout (Charles Street) from two to four lanes and has delivered immediate benefits to traffic flow.

View or download the Charles Street early work map (PDF, 284Kb).

Community engagement

In April 2010 the Minister for Transport and Roads announced that Roads and Maritime Services would review all the issues highlighted by the Grafton community during the initial stage of consultation. As a result, an issues paper was prepared. The Minister also announced that residents should have input into the consultation forums and asked Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority) to prepare a community liaison plan and seek community feedback.

In August 2010 two community focus groups were conducted to discuss and provide feedback on the community liaison plan. The community requested that further opportunities for consultation be developed to enable the community to have input, including a survey. The focus group also asked that the study area be expanded to consider other route options proposed by the community.

In September 2010 the Clarence Valley Council wrote to Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority) and the Minister for Roads in support of a community survey to enable the local community to have their say on the location of the new Summerland Way/ Grafton Bridge. Council also supported the view that route options outside the existing study area should be considered.

In December 2010 Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority) released a community update which announced a new consultation process for the project. The community update included an initial community survey and advised that a phone survey would be conducted early in 2011 to gather further feedback.

This updated community liaison plan describes how the project team, (Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority), consultant Arup and technical specialists) will engage with the community to assist with the identification of a preferred option for the crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton. Community input, along with information from the technical and environmental studies, will assist the project team undertaking the assessment process to determine firstly the short list of options and then the preferred option. See the project documents page for more information.

Three community surveys have been undertaken recently to gauge the views of local residents and businesses regarding the additional crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton.

The December 2010 community update included a postal survey that asked the community for their feedback about a second crossing of the Clarence River. The postal survey invited the community to respond to some questions and indicate any additional areas that they would like to have considered. The report is available on the project documents page.

A telephone survey involving 514 randomly selected local residents and regular bridge users was undertaken in March 2011. The report is available on the project documents page.

In January 2012, six options were short-listed (from the 25 preliminary options) for further engineering and environmental investigations. The short-listed options are:

  • E - Cowan Street, South Grafton to Villiers Street, Grafton
  • A - New bridge parallel to and immediately upstream of the existing bridge connecting Bent Street, South Grafton and Fitzroy Street, Grafton
  • C - Junction of Pacific Highway and Gwydir Highway, South Grafton to Pound Street, Grafton
  • 11 - Existing Pacific Highway north of South Grafton to Fry Street, Grafton
  • 14 - Existing Pacific Highway north of South Grafton to North Street, Grafton via Kirchner Street
  • 15 - Existing Pacific Highway north of South Grafton to Summerland Way north of Grafton, via Kirchner Street.

Since January 2012, further investigations have been carried out. The design refinement to the six route options are shown in the September 2012 community update or see the short-listed options map.

In September 2012, the Route Options Development Report was displayed for public comment. Following close of comments on 12 October, a value management workshop was held on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 October with participants from key stakeholders, the community, government agencies and the project team.

In December 2012, a recommended preferred option was displayed for community comment. Following close of comments on 4 March 2013, a report on the submissions received and the preferred option has been prepared and is now available.

The online discussions forum closed on 10 October 2012.

For more information on the community forum videos, view or download the meeting notes and presentations.

In February 2010, Roads and Maritime Services identified four preliminary options for an additional crossing of the Clarence River in the vicinity of the existing bridge.

In March 2010, Roads and Maritime Services held discussions with the community about the preliminary options. The community identified additional options and ideas both close to and separate from the existing bridge.

In April 2010, the then Minister for Transport and Roads met with some Grafton residents to discuss these investigations.

The Minister asked Roads and Maritime Services to review all issues raised by the community.

At its meeting in September 2010, Clarence Valley Council agreed to request Roads and Maritime Services to survey the people of Grafton and surrounds for their desire as to the position of the new bridge and, if necessary, expand the study area to include other areas for the placement of the bridge.

In December 2010, Roads and Maritime Services announced a revised community consultation process to identify a preferred location for an additional crossing. The December 2010 community update identified 13 preliminary route options which included the additional options previously suggested by the community following the March 2010 community discussions.

A postal survey between December 2010 and March 2011 inviting community comment received a further 28 crossing suggestions, bringing the total of suggested locations to 41.

At community forums in March 2011, Roads and Maritime Services advised the 41 suggested locations would be assessed for their feasibility, to identify those options that would be further considered and investigated.

Of the 41 suggestions, 25 feasible crossing locations have been identified within five strategic corridors. A summary of the feasibility assessment is included in the June 2011 community update and documented in the Feasibility Assessment Report (June 2011).

In January 2012, six options were short-listed (from the 25 preliminary options) for further engineering and environmental investigations. The short-listed options are as follows:

  • E - Cowan Street, South Grafton to Villiers Street, Grafton
  • A - New bridge parallel to and immediately upstream of the existing bridge connecting Bent Street, South Grafton and Fitzroy Street, Grafton
  • C - Junction of Pacific Highway and Gwydir Highway, South Grafton to Pound Street, Grafton
  • 11 - Existing Pacific Highway north of South Grafton to Fry Street, Grafton
  • 14 - Existing Pacific Highway north of South Grafton to North Street, Grafton via Kirchner Street
  • 15 - Existing Pacific Highway north of South Grafton to Summerland Way north of Grafton, via Kirchner Street.

The process undertaken to identify the six short-listed options is included in the Preliminary Route Options Report – Final (January 2012) (PDF, 6.89Mb) and the January 2012 community update (PDF, 6.32Kb).

In September 2012, the report on the investigations on the six route options was released for community comment. The Route Options Development Report (September 2012) and the September 2012 community update (PDF, 7.63Mb) are now available view or download on the project documents page.

In December 2012, the recommended preferred option was announced for community comment.

Community comment, the investigations undertaken, and the outcomes of a value management workshop helped input to the decision on the recommended preferred route option.

In April 2013, Roads and Maritime Services confirmed the recommended preferred option (Option C) as the preferred option. The Preferred Option and Submissions Report (PDF, 3.39Mb) (April 2013) is now available.

A concept design was displayed for community comment in November 2013 prior to the display of the Environmental Impact Statement in August 2014 which also includes a revised concept design.

In December 2014 the project received planning approval.

Early work has now started to prepare for major construction to start in late 2016.

Share this page: