Detour receives backing
DESPITE several single-lane crossings, tight bends barely accommodating two cars, rock fall warnings and an increase in heavy vehicles, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) still considers the Gatton-Clifton Road as a “viable alternative route” to the closed Cunningham’s Gap.
Heavy goods vehicles using the narrow and winding Gatton-Clifton Road have increased around three-fold since the Gap closure on Sunday, according to Pilton school bus driver Jack Duggan.
Mr Duggan said he noticed on his afternoon run yesterday there was about “three times the traffic” on the road.
Though heavy vehicles have been advised to divert through the Toowoomba Range, many decided negotiating the narrow winding roads and numerous single-lane crossings over Heifer Creek would be time well-saved.
The department’s suggestion of using the road was contrary to police advice issued at the weekend, which warned motorists about the dangers of travelling on “any” of the back roads in the Gatton, Clifton and Allora areas.
After the Daily News questioned the decision, a TMR spokeswoman said the department “strongly suggests vehicles firstly consider travelling via Toowoomba on the Warrego and New England highways”.
“Should motorists choose to travel the Gatton-Clifton Road, they should realise that it is a narrower road with a slower speed environment,” she said.
“While any diversions are in place, we will have compliance officers on the road to make sure heavy vehicle operators are doing the right thing.”
Semi trailers are permitted to use the Gatton-Clifton Road, however it is not an approved B-double route.
TMR advised the Gap received 48mm of rainfall in an hour yesterday afternoon, triggering the movement sensor alarm on the slope.
The persistent rain has meant it is too dangerous for the geotechnical experts to assess the rock face and so the Gap will remain closed until midday today.
TMR advised this closure is unrelated to the planned closure scheduled for December 13 – 20, which will still go ahead.
Motorists are encouraged to keep up to date by calling 13 19 40 or registering for SMS updates at www.cunninghamhighwaysms.com.au.
Gap closure affects local businesses
Meanwhile, Warwick Chamber of Commerce has expressed its concern at the economic impact the Gap closure will have on the region.
President David Littleproud said service stations, fast food outlets and motels would be the first to feel the brunt.
“This will be another sting in the tail to our retail sector that are currently hurting in these tough economic conditions and reinforces the Chamber’s recent plea for residents to shop locally this Christmas,” Mr Littleproud said.