Gap to close for a week
CHRISTMAS highway travel is set to be thrown into disarray for a week when Cunningham’s Gap is closed to all traffic from 6am to 6pm, starting on Monday December 13.
Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace revealed this morning urgent work is needed on the notorious Gap landslide zone to remove two massive boulders threatening to dislodge and plummet onto the highway.
Mr Wallace said there was no alternative but to close the highway at the Gap from dawn until dusk so the boulders can be removed, with specialist drilling equipment to be used to shatter them.
He Southern Downs motorists and transport operators would be diverted at "key points" and will be forced to head to Brisbane via Toowoomba for the week during the closures.
The closures at this stage are scheduled to continue until Monday December 20, but if wet weather hampers the boulder removal efforts the Gap could remain closed until Christmas Eve or longer.
Traffic delays and 'stop-go' controllers will be on the cards from next Wednesday to prepare the site, with more details to come.
"It’s an inconvenience for people who use the Cunningham Highway, but safety simply must come first," Mr Wallace said.
"Transport and Main Roads has engaged specialist contractors to remove the two boulders above the highway near Gap Creek Road.
"With heavy rain predicted, they’ve got to get on with the job straight away."
Mr Wallace said the work zone would be protected by ballast-filled shipping containers.
New concrete barriers have already been set in place this week at the Gap, closing one lane on the uphill side, to protect against minor rock falls which could happen as a result of the wet conditions which are tipped to continue.
It is understood the need to remove the boulders has resulted from inspections carried out by geologists at the Gap in recent weeks, with traffic delays having been constant.
"Geotechnical experts will work alongside rock climbers with specialist drilling equipment to shatter the boulders," Mr Wallace said.
"I’ve been assured by my Department that all going well with the weather, the highway will re-open over the Christmas-New Year period.
"We will do our utmost to ensure the community and stakeholders are kept fully informed.
"I thank motorists in advance for their patience and understanding while these works are being carried out.
"The bottom line is that these boulders have to go."