BRIDGING THE CLARENCE: State Minister for Roads Duncan Gay (centre), Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan surrounded by the people who will work to complete the Harwood Bridge project by 2019.
BRIDGING THE CLARENCE: State Minister for Roads Duncan Gay (centre), Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan surrounded by the people who will work to complete the Harwood Bridge project by 2019. Clair Morton

Spanish firm to build new bridge

AS A child, the ferry that took motorists across the Clarence River at Harwood was an exciting novelty for NSW Minister for Roads Duncan Gay.

Yesterday, more than 50 years on and one bridge later, Mr Gay travelled to Harwood for the announcement of Spanish firm Acciona Ferrovial Joint Venture as the preferred tenderer to design and build Harwood's newest bridge.

"I'm old enough to have been through the three stages; as a kid on school holidays as a kid with mum and dad, my sister and the caravan, we would cross on the ferry just here, and it's nearly 50 years now since the (first) bridge was put in here," he said.

"I never dreamt as a kid... heading on summer holidays that I would be the minister working on this bridge. It's pretty special."

At almost 30m high and 1.5 kilometres long, the new Harwood bridge will be the longest of more than 100 new bridges built as part of the the 155km Woolgoolga to Ballina section of highway.

Construction is expected to begin in August and is scheduled for completion in 2019, but Acciona Ferrovial Joint Venture regional director Guillermo Ripado hopes it will be finished sooner. "We are looking forward to this opportunity it's going to be a nice and beautiful structure," he said.

"It should be finished by the end of 2018."

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the two- year project would create about 200 new jobs for the Clarence Valley.

"The Pacific Highway upgrade has been the biggest boon for jobs in our community in decades," Mr Hogan said.

"We know about 35% of local workers are picking up jobs on other sections of the upgrade."

But it was the real reason behind the whole highway project that was most poignant. "This is to save lives, to make sure the road toll is lower than it is at the moment," Mr Hogan said.

"There are still too many fatalities which happen where the highway has not been duplicated, and that is why we're doing this as fast as we can, as we should."



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