Work starts on new $48 million bridge
IT WAS a sad and yet happy day for some long term Tabulam residents as they attended the official sod-turning of the new bridge.
While the old one-laned wooden Tabulam Bridge has served its purpose, opening at the beginning of last century, many agreed that progress needed to happen.
"(The old bridge) has to go, I know. It was costing too much to maintain," Tabulam born ex-resident Val Winterton said.
"I have a close connection with it as my grandfather and uncles worked on it when it was being built and my brother was the superintendent of the bridge.
"My mother used to do the (river level) readings for 50 years."
Ms Winterton said during flood times her mother would put on her 'wellies' and raincoat and lean over the bridge to read the river level gauge.
Uncle Harry Walker also had mixed emotions as he remembered his childhood, of which the old bridge was a big part.
"I think way back to those times when I was a little fella, playing cowboys and indians and climbing all around the bridge," he said.
"A couple of times I nearly met my Waterloo."
Both Uncle Harry and Ms Winterton agreed with Lismore MP Thomas George, however, that a new two-laned bridge with pedestrian access was a big improvement.
"To have a bridge with a lane going each way will be fantastic," Mr George said.
"The existing bridge was recently de-listed as a heritage structure and will be removed once the new crossing opens to traffic due to significant ongoing maintenance costs."
The new bridge will also reduce emergency response times and continue to be a major link between the coast and tableland areas.
Mr George, with the help of Uncle Harry and students of Tabulam Public School helped to turn the sod with a special, shiny spade for the occasion.
Delaney Civil Engineering will be constructing the new bridge over the Clarence River, alongside the old bridge, which will still be open for the next two years.
Ideas are discussed regarding the heritage value of the old bridge and how best to represent that history.