No-one was injured when a large boulder toppled onto two shipping containers yesterday.
No-one was injured when a large boulder toppled onto two shipping containers yesterday.

Boulder falls on highway

TWO shipping containers were flattened and traffic was clogged along Cunningham’s Gap when a massive rock fell onto the highway yesterday - just two days after the bordering shire mayors were given a first-hand progress report.

While the Department of Transport and Main Roads says the removal of the large boulder was planned, motorists were left frustrated at the inconvenience.

Some drivers reported delays of up to one hour and traffic which had banked back to the helicopter pad.

The rock fell about two kilometres from the top of the range.

A spokeswoman for Transport and Main Roads said the highway was closed “for a short time” yesterday morning in preparation of bringing the rock down.

“Safety is always our number one priority and we put short-term road closures in place as a precaution while works to remove the rock were carried out,” she said.

“These resulted in the highway being closed for about 20 minutes. We were able to reopen the road to traffic at 11.15am.”

The Daily News asked for further information from Main Roads about the size of the rock and how it was disposed of, but the department could not offer a response before the time of print.

Further questions of whether the contractors had expected the rock to demolish two shipping containers and spill onto the road were also unanswered.

On Tuesday, Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Ron Bellingham and Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor John Brent were given a guided tour through the latest reconstruction work.

Main Roads south coast director Paul Noonan told the mayors work had been continuing at best pace to reopen all lanes of the highway.

Part of the process included drilling 12m and 18m long iron nails underneath the sections of road which formed a grid and worked to stabilise it.

Mr Noonan said Main Roads was also monitoring any movement of the overhanging cliff face.

One of the methods to do this was through the use of an alarm, which activates when the slightest of movement in the rock is detected.

The alarm is less than 500m from where the rock fell yesterday.

Meanwhile, ongoing repair work at the Gap is still evoking strong opinions from Southern Downs residents.

A Killarney business owner, Dave Weier, wrote to the Daily News to express his opinion on what should happen to the crossing.

“The end cost is still unknown and (current work) is still only a band aid fix,” he said.

“I think a tunnel is the answer – it would get used more than the tunnels in Brisbane.”

An online poll showed Daily News readers felt repair work was too slow.

Roadworks at Cunningham’s Gap have been under way since November, 2010, when the Department of Main Roads and Transport began stabilising the rock face above the highway.

The flood events in December and January weakened the earth underneath the highway and serious roadworks began to stabilise the road.

Main Roads predicts work will continue at Cunningham’s Gap for the remainder of the year.

What do you think of the progress at Cunningham’s Gap? Do you think repair works are the best option? Email or phone 4660 1316.

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