Gracemere overpass to be officially opened this Friday
THE LONG-AWAITED Gracemere overpass will be officially opened on Friday and with that, two dangerous level crossings will be closed permanently.
Aurizon will permanently close two of the highest risk level crossings in central Queensland following the opening of the Gracemere overpass this week.
The closures are a major safety initiative by Aurizon, the operator of the Central Queensland Coal Network, to protect the lives of motorists and the traincrew who use the two crossings daily.
During 2011, 110 near misses occurred at the Somerset Road and Malchi Road level crossings in Gracemere, accounting for one third of all near miss incidents at level crossings in central Queensland.
Despite extensive community education campaigns and the installation of CCTV to raise awareness about the danger of level crossings, 25 near misses occurred in 2012.
Aurizon SVP Safety Health & Environment, Neil Backer said the opening of the Gracemere overpass on Friday and closure of Somerset and Malchi Road level crossings would significantly improve the safety of CQ motorists and traincrew alike.
"Over the last two years, more than 100 central Queensland motorists have put their lives at risk in near misses with coal trains at these two crossings. Clearly, this also presents a high risk to the drivers of our coal trains which is unacceptable," he said.
"We continue to explore the closure of high risk crossings where they are no longer needed.
"We also appeal to motorists to get smart, do the right thing and observe all warning signs, lights and boom gates at level crossings. By ignoring or missing these warnings, they're simply putting their lives and the lives of traincrew at grave risk.
"Near misses are occurring too often and as far as we're concerned one near miss is one too many. When a motor vehicle collides with a 10,000 tonne coal train at 80 kilometres an hour, there is little forgiveness.
"Aurizon is committed to reducing the level crossing incident rate across central Queensland by upgrading level crossings across the state", Mr Backer said.
"Aurizon is proud to have donated $10 million to the Department of Transport and Main Roads towards the total cost of $50 million to construct the Gracemere overpass which will officially open to the public this Friday and will be utilised for all future access to and from the Gracemere Industrial Area."