DEFINING MOMENT: The first set of traffic lights in the Clarence Valley are ready to go.
DEFINING MOMENT: The first set of traffic lights in the Clarence Valley are ready to go. Kathryn Lewis

All systems go - and stop - as Grafton turns on lights

IT HAS been a cause of controversy for decades but, like it or not, the Valley's first set of traffic lights is ready to go.

The lights at the intersection of Clarence and Pound streets in Grafton are finished but won't be switched on until the Grafton bridge project is complete.

Heavy vehicle mechanic Chris Blanchard remembers the uproar when the first roundabouts were installed in Grafton in the late 1980s.

He said residents wanted traffic lights back then to "compete" with Coffs Harbour, whereas today maintaining the small-town vibe of Grafton seemed more important.

"I think some people feel it changes the status of the town more towards a city than a regional area," he said.

Mr Blanchard said in some cases roundabouts were simply "past their use-by date" and could not cope with heavy traffic.

As a heavy vehicle driver, he said the lights would certainly make truckies' journeys easier.

He said when traffic was at a standstill, particularly at the roundabout on Villiers and Fitzroy streets, manoeuvring large vehicles was not easy.

"It's very hard to take off cleanly and not appear to impede on traffic coming the other way because you are so slow off the mark," he said.

Councillor Richie Williamson has made his thoughts on the traffic lights clear in the past, opposing proposed lights at the Treelands Drive and Yamba Rd intersection last year, which did not go ahead.

Cr Williamson said he was "not a fan" of the idea initially, but soon saw the light as "necessary" for the safety of drivers and pedestrians.

"I asked if the lights would be an inconvenience or a convenience for drivers, RMS laid out the facts in front of me, and I was convinced," he said.