A piece of infrastructure that was vital to the development of the North Coast and intercity transport has turned 90, and Clarence Valley residents are invited to a party this weekend to celebrate the milestone.
The original Grafton Bridge, the only double-decker road and rail bridge in Australia, turned 90 last week and Transport for NSW and the Clarence Valley Council are giving the community an opportunity to show its appreciation.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said it was difficult to appreciate how important the Grafton Bridge was to the development of the North Coast.
“Until the Grafton Bridge opened on 19 July 1932 the only way to cross the river was by ferry,” the spokesperson said.
“That posed all sorts of logistical problems, particularly for rail traffic, but 90 years later the bridge is still going strong and remains a vital part of the Clarence Valley transport network.
“It will serve Clarence residents for generations to come.”
The Transport for NSW spokesperson said residents and bridge enthusiasts were invited to the party from 9.30am on Sunday 24 July.
“Come for a walk on the shared user paths on new and old bridges, have a sausage sizzle and join us in the cake cutting ceremony at 11.30am to mark the occasion,” the spokesperson said.
“There’ll also be a limited number of showbags to give away.
“Most of the activity will be on the McClymont Reserve between the new and old bridges.
“There’s plenty of room and we would like as many people as possible to come along to say ‘thanks’ and ‘happy birthday’.”
Clarence Valley Mayor, Ian Tiley, said the double-decker Grafton Bridge was affectionately known to locals as the bendy bridge as it has a bend at each approach to allow the railway to continue straight while the road diverges.
“Long before the first bridge was built across the Clarence in Grafton, a steam punt, established in 1859, carried passengers across ‘the big river’,” Cr Tiley said.
“I well recall, also as mayor, participating in celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the bridge when we drove vintage cars across the bascule truss bridge to commemorate the anniversary.
“I invite the community to enjoy the 90th celebrations.”