Wardell to mark 50th anniversary of bridge that changed town
FIFTY years will be spanned this week for a structure that changed Wardell.
The Wardell bridge will be half a century old tomorrow, April 10.
President of the Wardell Progress Association and Wardell-born Pat Carney, said the building of the bridge made a huge difference to the village.
The biggest change was that the new Pacific Highway route that came with the bridge split the village on the northern side of the Richmond River.
The Pacific Highway once ran along River Drive on the southern bank of the river, with two vehicle ferries operating at Burns Point at Ballina.
Mr Carney remembers the opening of the bridge and that the new highway route made it much easier for Wardell locals to get to Ballina.
Before that, they could cross the river by ferry at Wardell and follow the highway or travel along what were now back roads through Pimlico and into Ballina.
Steve Flatley, who also is a Wardell local, remembers motorists could, at peak holiday periods, wait several hours to cross the river at Burns Point, so many cottoned on to taking the Pimlico route, and only "waiting about an hour" to cross the river via the Wardell ferry.
The bridge still opens occasionally, with Roads and Maritime Services staff operating the mechanism.
When the bridge first opened, local people were trained how to open the bridge, but it opened much more often back then with cane vessels travelling underneath on the way to the Broadwater sugar mill.
Meanwhile, Mr Carney said the villagers of Wardell were generally looking forward to the completion of the next upgrade of the Pacific Highway, currently in planning, which will bypass the village.
He said the bypass would add to the village atmosphere of Wardell, which was already attracting social motorcycle groups and cyclists.