A new bridge crossing the Clarence River at Harwood in northern New South Wales is nearly complete, with the installation of the final girder marking major progress for the project.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack, said this was a significant milestone for the 1.5km, 35-span bridge – the longest of the 155km Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade – with 144 girders each weighing 168 tonnes now installed.

“Around Australia, the Liberal and Nationals’ Government is investing in upgrading roads to ensure people can get home sooner and safer, provide a boost to productivity, especially along the Pacific Highway,” Mr McCormack said.

“Since the first girder was lifted in November, the project team has installed all 144 girders, including transporting 44 of the girders across the bridge at night and lifting 48 from barges in the river.

“Piling work was completed earlier this year and the bridge deck is expected to be completed later this year.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, said after the deck was complete, the project team would continue working on approaches to the bridge, laying asphalt, installing deck joints, rails and line marking.

“The bridge is similar to the recently opened 800m bridge over Nambucca River at Macksville,” Mrs Pavey said.

Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, said once the bridge opened to traffic, it would improve safety and efficiency on the Pacific Highway, removing the need to stop traffic to accommodate high vessels using the river.

“The existing Harwood Bridge will become part of the local road network when the new bridge opens to traffic, providing an alternative route for residents and businesses,” Mr Hogan said.

“The new bridge across the Clarence River at Harwood will open to traffic by 2020.”

NSW Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, said overall progress on the Pacific Highway upgrade was also very strong.

“About 530km (81 per cent) of the final length of the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border is now four-lane divided highway,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“All remaining sections are now under construction.”

The Australian and NSW Governments are jointly funding the construction of the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade on an 80:20 basis.

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