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The site of the soon to be constructed McIntyres Lane overpass, under which the new highway will pass. Image: Geoff Helisma

Bikes: yes; pedestrians: no

Geoff Helisma |

Sometime after the new highway is completed, McIntyres Lane will become a paved road that passes above the highway: the ‘prayers’ of many residents who use the road will be fulfilled.

McIntyres Lane connects the western side of Gulmarrad to the existing highway, which will become a local road once the highway is completed – the lane provides a shorter route to head south towards Grafton, in particular.

Sealing McIntyres Lane has been a contentious issue since and before the amalgamation of the valley’s councils in 2004.

In 2009, councillors unanimously voted against a report recommending the closure of the road, which described it as a “short cut to the highway”.

In 2010, Cr Karen Toms was unsuccessful with her motion to seal sections of the road.

At that meeting, she cited a February 2003 council report to the former Maclean Shire Council, which stated, in part: “It is necessary for Council to decide its position on the upgrading of McIntyres Lane.”

Basically, a decision was made to await the construction of the new highway and address the issue then.

One resident, Dennis Gordon, who has developed several parcels of land in Gulmarrad, made a submission to the RMS during the consultation period, advocating the inclusion of a footbridge on the new highway overpass, which is about to be constructed.

“It will be vital that walkers and cyclists have access to the river and the old highway,” he wrote in his submission.

He provided an “overall plan of Gulmarrad” and pointed out the likelihood of future subdivisions “specifically near where the overbridge is proposed” that would utilise the road – “It [Gulmarrad] is only partially developed,” he wrote.

In addition to this, the area bounded by Sheehans Lane and Brooms Head Road is zoned for urban style, sewered development, to accommodate around 260 lots.

Mr Gordon said he had made recent enquiries to the RMS and Pacific Complete (after being provided with contacts by Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis) and was told that the issue had been discussed at a recent meeting between CVC officers and RMS/Pacific Complete.

The Independent made an emailed enquiry to Clarence Valley Council, asking whether or not a footbridge would be included on the overpass.

The council responded: “Clarence Valley Council civil services manager, Tim Jenkins, said pedestrian numbers of McIntyres Lane did not warrant the inclusion of a pedestrian walkway on the planned bridge and had not been requested.

“The new bridge will have road shoulders suitable for cyclists.

“He said there were no immediate plans to seal McIntyres Lane, but in its March meeting council agreed to conduct a more detailed assessment, which includes preliminary design of McIntyres Lane and James Creek Road to quantify the actual construction costs and then re-evaluate both of these with regard to benefit-cost analysis for sealing.”