Extensive repairs continue at Cunningham’s Gap.
Extensive repairs continue at Cunningham’s Gap.

Between a Gap and a rockfall

CUNNINGHAM’S Gap was closed again for a short period yesterday while a dangerous rock was removed from the range’s slopes.

The controlled rockfall was carried out at 1.30pm yesterday and a Department of Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said the highway was closed for about 10 minutes.

The Daily News was told of the closure five minutes before it happened and was informed of the re-opening not long after.

According to the spokeswoman, the work to bring down the rock was part of the department’s work to stabilise the slopes.

“The rock was identified by geologists as being at risk of subsiding,” she said.

“It became apparent that the rock needed to be removed immediately. Safety is always our number one priority and we put a short-term road closure in place as a precaution while this controlled rockfall was carried out.”

Some hours before the closure Federal MP for Maranoa Bruce Scott issued a media release saying a Coalition government would fund a study to deliver a viable long-term solution to the ongoing problems at Cunningham’s Gap.

Mr Scott said the latest delay in works at the Gap highlighted the severity of the problem and the need to explore all possible alternatives.

“Cunningham’s Gap is an important arterial route for trade and tourists travelling between Brisbane, Sydney and the Murray-Darling Basin region,” he said.

“Millions and millions of dollars have been poured into fixing the highway, but we are yet to see a long-term solution for the multitude of problems experienced at Cunningham’s Gap.

“That is why during a visit to the Warwick region earlier this year, Federal Nationals leader Warren Truss committed to funding a study into the Cunningham’s Gap site to determine the best option for road safety improvements at the Gap if the Coalition won government.

“We must investigate all possible options for crossings through the Great Dividing Range, which includes tunnels, bridges and even developing Spicer’s Gap as an alternative to Cunningham’s Gap.

“Local businesses and residents throughout the Southern Downs have had to deal with the continual closures of Cunningham’s Gap for far too long, and these problems will only continue as the volume of traffic increases on the highway.”

Two weeks ago the Gap was closed when a 20 tonne boulder crashed down from the slopes above.

The department said it was a controlled rockfall but no advance notice was given about the road closure.

The force of the fall crushed a shipping container below but the department said the containers were in place for exactly that purpose.

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