A NEW access road opened yesterday connecting the South Grafton business precinct on Iolanthe St to the Pacific Highway will ease congestion and make the commute safer.    The new road comes as part of the Grafton bridge project and will reduce traffic in the busy Spring St and Pacific Highway intersection.    "It will reduce the risk of accidents between Iolanthe St and the old Pacific Highway," Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said at the opening.    "There's been a lot of near misses there, and of course it's very frustrating for motorists."   The road will allow better access to the South Grafton business precinct and reduce traffic in the busy area.    "Once the new bridge is fully open to traffic, this new access road will become part of the highway and the current route, south of Bunnings, will no longer be used by highway traffic," Mr Gulaptis said.    Senior project manager for the new Grafton bridge project Greg Nash, Fulton Hogan project director Andrew Ross and acting director Northern Region RMS Vicky Sisson joined Mr Gulaptis in opening the latest instalment in the $240 million project.   The changes will take a bit of getting used to said Mr Nash but is excited for the opportunity to "help take some pressure off the community".    "We just need to get the community up and running and used to the changes," he said.    Mr Ross said this is the first of many milestones in the project due for completion this year.    "It's going to be an exciting year," Mr Ross said.    "You will see the bridge going up at a great rate of knots now."    Iolanthe St, Spring St and the new Gwydir Highway roundabout are being rebuilt in stages to allow them to remain open during work.   The finished work will widen Iolanthe Street to four lanes and include a signalised pedestrian crossing of the Gwydir Highway and cycle paths.