The new bridge over Emu Creek near Tabulam is nearing completion, with federal MP Barnaby Joyce inspecting progress while in the area recently.
The bridge will provide heavy vehicle access to the Mountain Blue blueberry farm, after safety concerns over the old timber bridge meant its load limit was reduced to 10 tonnes thereby limiting the business's transport options.
Mountain Blue approached both federal and state members of parliament Mr Joyce and then-representative Thomas George, respectively for assistance with a new bridge. Federal Roads-to-Recovery funding is the order of $382,000 was used to provided temporary access via a sidetrack, which is currently in use.
The NSW Government provided $1.82 million for a new bridge, with Mountain Blue contributing a further $70,000 towards the project.
The new bridge should be open to traffic in around 6-8 weeks, with Mr Joyce on the lookout for any retribution over his Tabulam Bridge opening controversy, lest another authority slip in and usurp official bridge opening duties.
With 600 workers on duty when the blueberry farm is at full force, Mr Joyce considered the project a great outcome.
"They wanted a bridge, we got them a bridge," Mr Joyce said.
"It's a vital piece of infrastructure and we got it done."
Tenterfield Shire Council's Infrastructure Director Fiona Keneally complimented local contractor Ozwide Bridge and Rail from Kyogle LGA for doing a great job in a short amount of time. The bridge is comprised of two 18-metre spans, with the girders formed offsite and the abutments, centre pier and deck all poured onsite by the contractor.
There remains some backfilling to do, approach slabs and safety rail installation before the bridge can be opened to traffic.
While in the vicinity, Mr Joyce paid a flying visit to the construction site of the new Clarence River bridge on Hootons Road and, controversially, Tabulam Bridge.
A further ribbon cutting event took place at Plains Station Road to open the additional work following the upgrade to Frasers Cutting. Funded by Federal Roads to Recovery program at a total cost of $680,000, this work has greatly improved the width and safety of the roadway.