Vital early work has started to provide important information for the design for the new bridge over the Clarence River at Harwood. Drilling and investigation work will be carried out until December this year, weather permitting, along the route of the new bridge, which will be built about 20 metres east of the existing Harwood Bridge. The bridge will be the longest of more than 100 along the 155 kilometre upgrade stretch from Woolgoolga to Ballina. Investigations and early work will involve drilling about 72 boreholes with 26 proposed to be drilled from a barge on the Clarence River. Strict environmental controls will be in place while work is carried out. The investigations are required to analyse the ground conditions for the new bridge’s supports along the 1.5 kilometre long, four-lane bridge, which will have a 30 metre clearance from the Clarence River. Work will be carried out from 7am to 6pm on weekdays, and 8am to 5pm on Saturdays. It will progress from the northern side of the Clarence River towards the southern bank. Survey work on land will be also carried out to identify and locate services and utilities, like telecommunications and water, and to confirm the project’s boundary. There will be a channel open at all times for marine users, but operators need to use extreme care when navigating near the work, and reduce speed to four knots when within 100 metres of the work barge. Temporary navigational restrictions will be in place for the duration of the work and the barge will display an all-round white light, and flashing orange lights to indicate its location at night. The informal car park on the southern side of the existing bridge, next to Yamba Road, will remain closed during work on the upgrade, to ensure safe separation between local traffic, work vehicles and heavy machinery. Work on the upgrade has been steadily progressing, with about 56 kilometres of the overall 155 kilometres under way. It’s expected soft soil settlement work in the Harwood area will be finished late this year, weather permitting.