Excavators working about a kilometre east of the helipad yesterday, where heavy rain caused a landslip below the road surface and a new embankment has been built.
Excavators working about a kilometre east of the helipad yesterday, where heavy rain caused a landslip below the road surface and a new embankment has been built.

Gap job gets bigger each day

MORE repair work than ever is going on at Cunningham’s Gap, with drilling continuing at the Fig Tree Gully section and reports of a new trouble spot 600 metres from the helipad.

The $40 million repair works – to which the new damage will add – is the largest construction job in the Gap’s history and Main Roads are now having to spread their resources along much of the trouble-plagued stretch.

At least three stop-go traffic sites currently occupy the Gap, forcing delays of up to half an hour.

Large drills are positioned along the road edge at Fig Tree Gully near the top of the mountain, which will construct a retaining wall on the slope to support the road.

Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace said the piling machinery would dig up to 40 holes.

“Up to 1600 cubic metres of concrete and 250 tonnes of steel reinforcements will then be sunk vertically into the holes before the whole structure is anchored into the rock face beneath the road,” he said.

“This will form a safe and stable foundation for the road, and a more permanent solution for the motorists who rely on this route each day.”

Mr Wallace said the piling was expected to be finished in June, weather permitting.

Further down the range, work has been assigned to the newly-identified work site – number 11 – located just over half a kilometre from the helipad, but Main Roads remain coy on the specifics of the problem.

Wickham Freight Lines director Darren Eather said a tunnel was his choice of solutions to the trouble-plagued stretch of highway.

“In my opinion it’s the way to go. If they can tunnel under the Sydney Harbour, they can tunnel through a mountain,” he said.

“(If we built a tunnel) you’d never have another issue with it. It’d keep everyone happy.”

Mr Eather worked for Main Roads 15 years ago and said a study was done to investigate the costs of a tunnel while he was there.

Although it would be likely to be the more expensive alternative, he said it would be money well spent.

“You’ve got to spend the money – you can’t stand still. It’s a 100-year plan, not a band-aid fix for the next five years,” he said.

“It’s a national highway and you’ve got to have roads to connect the network.

“We saw with the flooding that if a road is closed for one or two days, the town’s out of milk and bread.

"It’s only when the roads are closed people understand the importance of road transport and freight.”

Along with the Chamber of Commerce and other Warwick businesses, Mr Eather will be meeting with Federal Shadow Transport Minister Warren Truss and Federal Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott when they visit the region today.

Mr Eather said he will emphasise the need for a permanent fix to the Gap to the politicians.

“It just impacts the whole road network. There’s been no money spent on it for a long time and it needs to be put on the top shelf and needs to be upgraded,” he said.

“Without the infrastructure, we’re going backwards.”



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