By HARRY CLARKE
SHIPPING containers filled with ballast will be used to prevent rock from falling during repair works on the Toowoomba Bypass, which has been closed to eastbound travellers since the end of October.
A statement from the Department of Transport and Main Roads confirmed both eastbound lanes of the bypass will remain closed until the end of November, at the earliest, due to a large crack in the retainment “shotcrete” above the highway caused by wet weather.
“Both eastbound lanes were closed in late October for the safety of motorists, after heavy rainfall caused significant movement in a cutting on the northern side of the road, the statement said.
“One lane will be open to traffic later this month (November), weather and conditions permitting.
“TMR’s contractor Nexus is working as quickly as possible to reopen this important connection while prioritising the safety of the work crews and the community.
“Nexus’s geotechnical experts have been working to understand this very complex situation. Investigations have shown two significant failure planes in the bottom of the cutting with the material above them continuing to move.
“Temporary works are underway to allow the inner eastbound lane to be reopened. The temporary solution will provide a safe way to contain the cutting material while a permanent solution is devised by geotechnical experts.
TMR regional director Bill Lansbury said the safety of motorists was his priority.
“The contractor Nexus is working as quickly as possible to reopen this important connection, but we’ll continue to prioritise the safety of the work crews and our community,” Mr Lansbury said.
“Extreme wet weather over 2022 has caused moisture to find its way into the cutting above the eastbound lane, causing movement to large wedges of material, and cracks in the concrete.
“A short-term solution has been planned which will allow one eastbound lane to reopen.”
“The temporary works involve the installation of shipping containers filled with ballast, which will act as a protective barrier to prevent any rock fall impacting the traffic lanes,” Lansbury said.
“In the critical section, the 20-foot shipping containers are being secured by restraint wires connected to 72 anchor bars which are drilled and grouted into the sandstone under the road.”
The installation of the double-stacked shipping containers will require the use of a crane parked on the bypass westbound lanes. As such, westbound lanes will also be closed on Friday November 25 to facilitate the work.
The extensive work required to permanently repair the cutting is scheduled to start in 2023.
For more information about the project contact Transport and Main Roads on (07) 4639 0777 or DownsSWR.Office@tmr.qld.gov.au.