The final 168 tonne girder of a massive bridge over the Clarence River at Harwood has been installed as the Nationals continue to deliver safer roads.

Federal Nationals Leader, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack, said it was a major milestone means the new crossing of the Clarence River – a 1.5 kilometre, 35-span bridge with 144 girders – the longest of the 155-kilometre Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

“Around Australia, the Nationals in Government are 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 Roads Minister 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 800 metre bridge over Nambucca River at Macksville,” Mrs Pavey said.

Member for Page Kevin Hogan, the Nationals local Federal MP, 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 Nationals State MP and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said overall progress on the Pacific Highway upgrade was also very strong.

“About 530 kilometres (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 Nationals in Government at both a State and Federal level are jointly funding the construction of the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade on an 80:20 basis.