SANTA will bring a very heavy Christmas present for Coffs Harbour City Council when he arrives this year.

Ninety 26-metre concrete deck planks to form the new bridge over Coffs Creek will begin arriving and being put in place around Christmas.

The council's operations manager Alan Hindmarsh said work on the $7.4- million bridge was proceeding on schedule. Five years ago the first stage of the Hogbin Drive extension, from Arthur Street to Orlando Street, opened to the public.

Since that time, the missing link between Orlando Street and Harbour Drive has been the source of much public and private debate.

Environmental concerns regarding the sensitive ecological nature of Coffs Creek and environs were initially raised, as well as flooding concerns over the design of the 130-metre long, two-lane plus cycle/walkway, bridge.

"We have an environmental officer who audits the site and has overseen the plan," Mr Hindmarsh said.

"If you come and look at the site, you will see that the environmental concerns have been treated seriously. We have done all we can to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding environment."

Mr Hindmarsh said temporary work platforms were in place to enable the 180-tonne crawler crane to place the deck planks in place. The support piles are currently at water level, with the new stage being to pour the piles to the underside of the bridge deck level. The project should be completed by May 2007.

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