ENGINEERING MARVEL: Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis (right) talks as another U-girder is lifted on to the new Harwood Bridge today.
ENGINEERING MARVEL: Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis (right) talks as another U-girder is lifted on to the new Harwood Bridge today. Adam Hourigan Photography

Bridge clicks into place

FROM a distance, it was like watching a new piece of Lego be clicked into place.

Two cranes, carefully guided by tiny figures at either end, picked up the large U-girder block, moved it into position, and lay it atop the new Harwood bridge.

These are no mere toys though, with each girder weighing more than 160 tonnes and worth $100,000, a crowd of media and project workers watched as several were dropped into place on the fifth span on the north side of the river at Harwood yesterday.

"It's an engineering marvel,” Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said while watching the girder being lifted into place.

"It's exciting to see work on the 1.5-kilometre, 36-span bridge is progressing well.”

The installation of the U-girders will steadily get more challenging, with the highest of the 144 girders on the bridge reaching about 30 metres above the river.

The last four piles of the bridge will also be driven in the next few weeks, with them being put into position now. The entire bridge project is on schedule to be open to traffic in 2020.

"The bridge is on track to be finished in the first half of 2019, and obviously there are associated roadworks at either end after that,” project manager Col Solomon said.

"It's not easy to build a bridge through the middle of a residential area, but it's gone very well, and I think the locals are pleased to see the progress through this year.”

More than 200 people are involved directly in the construction of the Harwood river crossing that will be the largest bridge on the 155km Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Hwy upgrade, with about 50 locals part of that team.

Mr Gulaptis said the new bridge will provide a safer road for motorists, reduce the need for highway traffic to stop when the existing bridge is raised for maritime users and support regional development.

"The existing Harwood Bridge will become part of the local road network when the new structure opens, providing an alternative route for residents and businesses.”



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