Lynne Mowbray |
It was a nostalgic moment for two Harwood Island men on Friday as they set foot on the deck of the new Harwood Bridge, after being involved in the construction of the original Harwood Bridge, over 50 years ago.
The men were invited to join a small contingent including politicians and media to walk onto the deck of the new bridge for the first time.
Warren ‘Tiggy’ McGrath and Alan ‘Sticks’ Brasen said that they were amazed with how quickly the new bridge has taken shape.
“I don’t know how they’ve built it so fast, but it’s a God send – it really is,” Mr McGrath said.
“During the construction of the original Harwood Bridge I was helping a bloke by the name of Morrie Pickering make columns to hold the bridge up. Before that I was putting shudders up on the southern end, so they could pour the concrete for the roadway.
“It was interesting – but this one (the new bridge) is more interesting.
“I would have liked to have been a part of the construction of this one too, even working on the ‘stop and go’ signs for a couple of days, just so I could have said that I worked on both of them,” he said laughing.
After walking on the new bridge on Friday, Mr McGrath said that comparing both bridges was like comparing ‘chalk and cheese’.
“It was just so unbelievable looking down from the top of the new bridge at the old bridge below,” he said.
“We thought that the one we built was a big bridge, but it’s nothing compared to this one. This one’s blown it out of the water.
“It’s unbelievable the work the boys have done in such a short time, it’s great.
“I can’t wait to walk over this one when it officially opens.
“It’s definitely been required for years and years because the traffic is getting so bad that you can’t get on and off the highway. With this new one, the through traffic will keep going and the local traffic will use the old bridge, which will ease the congestion a bit,” he said.
Mr Brasen said that he moved up here about 56 years ago, after he served his five year apprenticeship as a ‘fitter and turner’ in Newcastle.
“My fiancée was a local girl and she got me a job,” Mr Brasen said.
“I worked for PR and JE Want who had a civil engineering shop in Harwood and we did lots of work for all the different contractors that built the first bridge.
“I got to meet lots of the contractors and all the fellows that were employed on the bridge itself.
“This bridge is way bigger than the first bridge and its great how quickly it’s gone up; within two days of the schedule they forecast, 18 months ago. It’s a pretty good effort.
Mr Brasen said that it will be good for the locals to have the old bridge being used mainly for local traffic, once the new bridge is opened.
“We won’t have to play cat and mouse with all the holiday makers, so it will be good,” he said.
Both men wished to convey a message to those involved in the construction of the new Harwood Bridge:
“I’d just like to tell the boy’s (working on the bridge) to keep up the good work,” Mr McGrath said.
Mr Brasen added, “I’d just like to congratulate all these fellas and all the contractors; they’ve done a marvellous job. It’s engineering genius.”