From new major infrastructure to help people get around, to building bridges both across the mighty Clarence and across digital divide, the Clarence Valley has seen exponential growth in the past 12 months. Take a look at the projects helping to modernise our region.
PACIFIC 'GOAT TRACK' EVOLVES INTO HIGHWAY
It was known as the 'Highway of Horror', getting its name for the high number of fatalities along the Pacific Highway including the Cowper bus disaster of 1989.
This poor reputation also earned the Pacific Highway its own podcast series. While disappointing it took 30 years to reach this point, the new Pacific Highway section will soon bypass the site of the Cowper disaster in a matter of weeks.
A TALE OF TWO NEW BRIDGES
In early December, 2019, the new Harwood Bridge opened to motorists. It's the largest bridge built as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade of the Pacific Highway, construction commenced in 2016 by joint partners Ferrovial Agroman and Acciona at a cost of $AU250 million.
It is 30 metres in height with four lanes and spans 620 metres. However, one hardly notices the altitude thanks to the smooth ascent up and over the bridge.
Just before its official opening, Clarence Valley residents turned out in their thousands to get a close up and personal look at their new Grafton Bridge, which their elected leader, the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, immediately dubbed as "sexy".
The new bridge had been a long-awaited development for the region.
LARGEST LOCK-UP IN AUSTRALIA
It started as a wide open piece of rural land, but now the site of the Clarence Correctional Centre looks like its own town, as shown in these exclusive photos.
The much anticipated $700m Clarence Correctional Facility aka new Grafton jail will be the largest of its kind in Australia. Located south of Grafton on the coastal side of what will soon be the new Pacific Highway, the Serco-run facility will be home to a prison population of around 1700 and employ more than 600 people.
The first inmates are expected to arrive mid-year and once it is fully operating, it will become one of the Clarence's major population hubs.
SPLASH OF COLOUR FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
With much of the Valley's new infrastructure in the black and white of concrete, it was only fitting that Grafton Regional Gallery showed a bit more colour when it came to their turn to move soil.
The new extension will see the addition of a huge national-standard gallery space, new cafe, conference/workshop and library facilities as well as flood protection will set the gallery up for the future and open up exhibition possibilities never seen before in the Clarence Valley.
REGION RECEIVES 21ST CENTURY SPEEDS
Last month the Clarence Valley became one of first regions in the world to get switched on to the latest 5G technology.
As part of their nationwide rollout, a 5G base station has been switched on in Grafton.
Meanwhile, The Clarence Valley will join the rest of Australia when the NBN is finally rolled out and switched on here.(Fingers crossed no more Netflix buffering or annoyingly long lag times in between online shopping and Skyping loved ones!)