The two-stage construction of a compound at Watts Lane, to house staff and manufacture concrete for the new Harwood Bridge, is expected to begin in mid October. Stage one will cater for staff and parking; stage two will be comprised of a concrete batching plant, to make concrete beams for the bridge, and a storage area for equipment and materials. “This site was identified and assessed for use as a project compound facility as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2012 and [the] Submissions/Preferred Infrastructure Report (SPIR) in 2013,” a (Roads and Maritime Services) RMS-supplied document states. The staffing arrangements include three main site offices and 80 car parking spaces. Stage two is proposed to begin “shortly” afterwards, to “allow the site offices to be in use by the end of the year”. While alternative sites were considered, the Watts lane location on RMS-owned land was chosen because it will “significantly reduce impacts on the Harwood community”, the RMS document states. There will be “100 fewer girder movements [44 instead of 144] on local roads”. Direct access to the bridge means that traffic impacts on Harwood village will be bypassed and, “by keeping heavy machinery and materials off the road, the project team will minimise safety concerns on local roads”. The onsite concrete batching plant “will reduce a significant number of concrete truck deliveries along the Pacific Highway [and] the size of the truck fleet would be smaller, meaning fewer trucks on the Harwood local road network”. Flood concerns will be mitigated, the RMS document states, by “ensuring no cross drainage is blocked, to allow for a constant water flow, and making sure ground levels are only built up to compliant limits in areas susceptible to flooding”. On noise issues, the document states that “anticipated noise levels were found to be within approved limits”, when considering nearby homes and Harwood Island Public School. “We also expect the raised soft soil treatment area east of the existing Pacific Highway would act as a noise barrier between part of the site compound and properties along Morpeth Street,” the document states. Dust is not expected to have a “significant” impact on nearby properties. “We will monitor dust associated with the project to ensure it is in line with the project’s conditions of approval,” the RMS document states. There will be around 300 truck and 100 car movements each day once the site is operational. The proposal also includes the permanent closure of the southbound on and off ramp on the eastern side of the existing highway, which means that “southbound access in and out of Harwood will be retained through Watts Lane, Harwood Mill Road and River Street, which will add about 2.2 kilometres or an additional two minutes to motorists’ journeys”. A community drop-in session was held at the Harwood hall last Thursday, at which comments were taken for consideration – people have until this Friday September 30 to offer further feedback, which the RMS document states, “will be used when assessing this proposal in line with our project approval”. For more information about the work, or to obtain a feedback form, contact the project team on 1800 778 900.