STUNNING VIEW: Highway's biggest bridge ahead of schedule
HARWOOD Hotel publican Mike Smith, with local fixtures Alan "Sticks" Brasen and Warren "Tig" McGrath were offered the rare opportunity to see their neighbourhood from a whole new perspective.
The three Harwood residents were invited to join NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey, Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis on the deck of the new Harwood Bridge to celebrate a major milestone in the project.
On Wednesday, the last of 144 girders was put into place, making the project 90 per cent complete and two days ahead of schedule.
"We got wind of it a few weeks ago when a couple of Pacific Complete workers came into the pub and mentioned some pollies were coming and that it was a big deal," Mr Smith said.
"I always like to know what's going on around here, so I did a bit of sleuthing."
During his detective work, Mr Smith inadvertently landed on the guest list.
"I ended up getting a phone call inviting me, Tig and Sticks to walk onto the bridge, and what an honour!"
More than five decades ago, Mr McGrath helped build the old Harwood bridge.
"I used to work at the sugar mill and one season work was a bit slack so I got a job up at the bridge," he said.
"My mate and I worked on building the columns.
"We were making them about 10 foot, tightening them down."
While this new project dwarfs its 1960s sibling, Mr McGrath said he was impressed by the efficiency of its construction.
"I can't get over how quickly they built it, but they've had good weather on their side," he said.
"And best of all, on a construction that big, and over water, you'd expect someone to have been hurt, but instead they've got a clean bill of health which is a fantastic result."
The new bridge is expected to be open to traffic by 2020.