The new bridge at Grafton has opened, improving traffic flow and supporting businesses in and around the riverside city.

Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis said the $240 million NSW Nationals in Government-funded bridge would be a game-changer for locals.

“It cannot be overstated how important this event is to the people of Grafton and the wider Clarence Valley,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“I feel elated that something the community has been fighting decades for is now a reality.

“The days of people sitting in traffic waiting to cross the river will be a thing of the past from today.

“This is part of the NSW Nationals in Government’s targeted infrastructure investment into the State’s regional areas.”

Representatives from the Bundjalung and Gumbanyggirr nations performed a smoking ceremony in the middle of the bridge prior to the first cars crossing.

Mr Gulaptis said a number of temporary and permanent traffic changes would also take place around the bridge.

“Grafton’s first traffic lights will be turned on at the intersection of Pound and Clarence streets, which give priority to traffic travelling to and from the new bridge,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“Some restrictions will still apply to traffic turning from Clarence Street at the new Summerland Way intersection.

“The intersection of the Pacific and Gwydir highways will continue to operate as a T-intersection under temporary traffic arrangements until the new roundabout is opened in mid-2020.

“Another change to traffic in Grafton will take place when the Pacific Highway bypass of the city opens next year, at which time this roundabout will also open to traffic.”

Mr Gulaptis singled out members of the original Grafton Bridge Committee Ron Bell, Des Harvey, Heather Roland, Doug Clark and the late Spiro Notaras for never giving up the fight and keeping the politicians honest.

“After some false starts, it was the NSW Nationals in Government that kept their promise to build a second crossing, and I know I am not alone in my excitement that it is finally a reality,” Mr Gulaptis said.