The completion of a roundabout has enabled the $240 million New Grafton Bridge project to come full circle and finish only metres from where it began.
As he stood at the Charles St and Big River Way intersection on August 17, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the newly finished road junction marked the completion of a project the community has long been waiting for.
He said it was fitting the final construction took place in Charles St where work commenced on the New Grafton Bridge project in 2015.
Describing the project funding as a “terrific endorsement by the NSW Government for the Clarence Valley community”, Mr Gulaptis also acknowledged the hard work by Transport for NSW, infrastructure company Fulton Hogan and local tradespeople who contributed to delivering a second river crossing in Grafton.
“It is fair to say the bridge promises went round in circles for a long time before the project finally got underway,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“With the completion of the roundabout, the finished roadworks, the Pacific and Gywdir Highways are linked, we’re seeing a free flow of traffic and this project has literally bridged the divide between Grafton and South Grafton.
“It’s such a pleasure to be able to drive across a modern, twenty-first century bridge and it’s fantastic to have it here for everyone who lives in the area.”
The New Grafton Bridge opened to traffic in December 2019 to ease congestion while roadworks on adjacent sections continued.
Alysse Reedy, a completions manager from Fulton Hogan said the new bridge and layout are receiving favourable reviews from commuters.
“Traffic flow is much more consistent,” she said.
“It’s been great to build something that makes a difference to the town.”
Senior project manager for the New Grafton Bridge Greg Nash, viewed the completed roundabout and surroundings alongside Mr Gulaptis.
After overseeing the project from it’s conception, Mr Nash is delighted the new bridge and roadworks have finally been completed.
“The completion of the new bridge has fully connected Grafton and South Grafton,” he said.
“Before, there was separation because of the delays and now it feels fully integrated as people are transiting easily between the two sides of the city.”
When asked how the community is responding to the new bridge and thoroughfares built to accommodate it, Mr Nash said local feedback is positive and encouraging.
“It’s really opened up the gateway to Grafton,” he said.
“With the Pacific Highway no longer coming through due to the bypass, we’ve reconfigured the connection between the Gywdir Highway, Big River Way and the Summerland Way so it makes more sense for motorists.
“I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the transformation for Grafton.”
To increase pedestrian safety amid the newly connected roadways, a set of traffic lights have recently been activated in Charles St to allow for safe travel between the Ryan St bus interchange and Grafton City Station.
With the infrastructure delivered and the roadworks completed, Mr Gulaptis said all that is left to do is give the bridge a name.
He added the local community will soon be invited to bring their suggestions forward.
“Maybe we can call it the Chris Crossing?” he suggested good naturedly.