Jumping for joy as Harwood’s big bridge opens
EVEN as a layer of smoke dulled the view, the new Harwood Bridge stood tall, with the first cars travelling across it late last night.
1.52 kilometres in length, with 620m over the river, with 117 land piles, 35 piers and 144 concrete bridge girders weighing up to 168 tonnes, the construction has been five years in the making.
After a serious of complex lane changes, cars began using the new bridge just after 9.30pm, with thousands of cars making the new trip by morning, and seeing the slightly hazy view from the top of the 32 metre high structure.
“The community has been overwhelmed by the structure, it’s become an iconic piece of engineering which will stand in the Clarence Valley,” Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said after watching traffic travel the bridge yesterday morning.
“It is a landmark that will identify us — the big bridge over the Clarence River, that’s where we live.
“It is an exciting time for the local community.”
Mr Gulaptis said that the bridge also reduced the delays from opening the old bridge lift-span for vessels on the river.
“The team has worked hard to have the new section of highway opened before the end of the year, allowing holiday-makers to get to their destination faster and with fewer delays.”
Mr Gulaptis said that many locals had worked on the new bridge as they had with the old one, and thus become part of the history of the area.
“It’s a really important step in the Pacific Highway upgrade,” he said. “It’s the largest bridge in the Pacific Highway upgrade from Hexham to the border, and it’s a milestone for the project.’”
A planned community walk day had to be cancelled twice due to conditions from nearby bushfires, and Mr Gulaptis said that the appreciated the support of the community in the matter, and would advise if there was any further opportunities for the day to proceed.
The Clarence community would still get the chance to walk the new Grafton bridge on Sunday., which is also due to open before the end of the month.
Alongside the bridge opening, the new Harwood interchange has also opened overnight while the Yamba interchange also partly opened, with a temporary diversion in place at the northbound off ramp for about two weeks.
The Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is on track to open in 2020 and Mr Gulaptis said new roads would continue to open to single and dual carriageway in stages as they are completed.