Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter, Labor candidate Bill Byrne, Keppel MP Paul Hoolihan, Premier Anna Bligh and QR National vice-president Network Operations Clay McDonald use shiny shovels to turn the sod at the site.
Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter, Labor candidate Bill Byrne, Keppel MP Paul Hoolihan, Premier Anna Bligh and QR National vice-president Network Operations Clay McDonald use shiny shovels to turn the sod at the site. Allan Reinikka

Worst rail death traps to get chop

TWO of the three worst Central Queensland rail crossings will be wiped out due to the $50 million Gracemere road and rail overpass.

Construction started yesterday with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh on site to turn the first sod.

Also yesterday QR National vice-president of network operations Clay McDonald announced the corporation would put $10 million into the $50 million Gracemere Industrial Access Project as it would eliminate two of the three worst railway crossings in the region.

"There have been 90 near misses in the last two years at the Somerset and Malchi crossings, which the overpass takes out," he said.

Also joining Ms Bligh at the sod turning were Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter, Keppel MP Paul Hoolihan and Rockhampton state seat candidate Bill Byrne.

The project will open up major new industrial land in Gracemere through the overpass.

Ms Bligh said it would deliver better access from the Capricorn Highway and across the Blackwater rail corridor into industrial land west of Gracemere.

"It is designed to cater for road trains and oversize loads, such as heavy mining equipment," she said.

"Previously, these large vehicles faced access restrictions due to the height of overhead electrified rail wires and had to reduce their load before entering the industrial area."

She said other projects were delayed because of last year's floods.

"People who travel this road on a regular basis in the next few weeks will start to see the pile drivers coming on board to start the bridge construction.

"It does mean for some period of time there will be all the inconvenience that you always get when we are doing major road infrastructure and I know that people are seeing a lot of roadworks around the region right now.

"This will be some short-term pain for very, very long-term gain."

Cr Carter said council was still in negotiations for the land acquisition part of the project, and over the next couple of months, council would be working on rezoning the land to suit the project.


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