GRAFTON BRIDGE: Engineering marvel to open for community day
OVER the years there have been those who doubted there would ever be a second crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton, but on Sunday those doubters will have the chance to feel the concrete of 176 pre-cast segments under their feet when they take a walk over the new Grafton bridge.
For Grafton Bridge senior project manager Greg Nash the community day will be an opportunity to show the community the final product years of planning, engineering and construction.
"For us it's a culmination of a lot hard work, for me I've been involved since mid 2015 so it's been a long run," Mr Nash said.
"A lot of work has gone into the bridge and it'll be great to give the community their first opportunity to walk the bridge on Sunday.
"I think the community is really excited about it, a lot of the community has got skin in the game and have been really involved so it will be nice to share that with the community and give them the opportunity to get out on the bridge."
Mr Nash said the construction of the bridge was an engineering marvel, something that hadn't been seen in Grafton for many years.
"The bridge spans 74 metres so it's a big span, and the design of balanced cantilevering with segments placed on piers out on the water, it was no easy task and a lot of work went into the design and planning of the construction to make it happen, it's quite a feat."
The community day on Sunday will be the first opportunity for the community to get up close and personal with the new bridge by walking across the span. Among those participating in the walk will be a number who experienced the opening of the old Grafton Bridge in 1932.
Coffs Harbour resident and former councillor Bill Palmer was a baby at the time, and participated in subsequent bridge walks for the 50th and 75th anniversaries. He is the grandson of "the second brickmaker in Grafton", George Richard Palmer, who made the bricks for the clocktower in Prince St.
"I'm 88 years old and my father carried me as a baby in arms across the current bridge on opening day," Mr Palmer said.
"For the 75th I walked across it with my little great grandson, Trey Jurd, who is now 14 and will hopefully be with me this Sunday as well.
While Mr Palmer will be borrowing a wheelchair for the occasion due to a spinal fracture, fellow 88-year-old Don Ford will be aiming to complete the crossing unassisted. He will make the trip down from Brisbane tonight.
"I was born in Grafton," he said. "We lived in the old bishop's house in North St, which was part of my grandfather's farm opposite the old cemetery at 14 Crown St.
"I do remember dad talking about the bridge at times, and how the span would lift up."
Macksville resident Min Cameron, who was three when she walked across the Grafton Bridge, has a brand new hip ready to go for the second bridge opening.
Due to the high pedestrian activity expected, the following streets will be closed between 7am and 1pm on Sunday December 8:
•The section of Pound Street between Villiers and Clarence streets
•The section of Clarence Street between Bacon and Pound streets, with the exception of local residents
•The section of Clarence Street between Pound and Craig streets, with the exception of local residents
•Fitzroy Street will remain closed to through traffic at the rail viaduct
•Greaves Street will remain closed to through traffic.
Traffic control will be in place at the intersection of Villiers and Pound streets and will implement stops for traffic on Villiers Street when necessary to ensure pedestrians can cross safely.