It's starting to look like a real bridge, as this aerial shot of the first segment of the new crossing was laid in place late Thursday afternoon. The piece is the first of 176 that will make up the crossing, weighing between 50-75 tonnes each.
It's starting to look like a real bridge, as this aerial shot of the first segment of the new crossing was laid in place late Thursday afternoon. The piece is the first of 176 that will make up the crossing, weighing between 50-75 tonnes each. Adam Hourigan

WATCH: First segment lifted onto Grafton bridge piers

UPDATE 6PM: With the afternoon light fading, the first of 176 segments was lifted into the air up onto one of the piers on the new Grafton bridge.

With a crowd watching on from all vantage points on the riverbank, and on the footbridge of the old bridge, the crane lifted the piece into place, marking another milestone in the construction of the new bridge, due to be open next year.

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Preparations for first girder on Grafton Bridge: The girder is lifted onto a barge ready to be put on the pier of the new Grafton Bridge. Video courtesy: RMS.

AS preparations were made today for the first segments to be laid on the new Grafton River Bridge, member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said he couldn't help but be impressed.

"As a surveyor by trade, I cannot help but admire the ingenuity of the team building this project in the face of severe challenges, mainly related to flood mitigation," he said.

"When finished next year, the new Grafton bridge is going to have a hugely positive impact for the Clarence Valley. It means it will take less time to take your kids to school, it means betterroad safety and it means local small businesses will be better able to compete.

Mr Gulaptis said it was also great to see new works on the old bridge.

"Part of the rail viaduct which crosses Pound Street will be replaced with a steel structure which can span the approach roadway. New pedestrian and cycle path and signalised pedestrian crossings will also be installed," Mr Gulaptis concluded.

The first segment is expected to be laid on the piers later this afternoon.