Mountains moved every day
THEY’RE moving mountains, literally, at the massive Bruce Highway re-routing site near Traveston.
One of the highway’s most important life-saving sections is taking shape on an overwhelming scale and at an almost incredible speed, as huge machines tear down the hills and fill the valleys over a 12km long construction site.
From the existing highway, the project looks awesome enough. From the special viewing area on-site, where road builders and officials took The Gympie Times this week, it is nothing short of breathtaking.
Go back 50 years, with the earthmoving equipment available in Australia then and you would be tempted to see it as one of the wonders of the engineering world.
Huge 100-tonne-plus machines are dwarfed by the sheer scale of the site, where near-mountainous terrain is being pretty much flattened – hills dug down and quarried for various grades of rock and soil, valleys filled, many millions of dollars worth of machinery put to work and hundreds of people employed.
The massive scale of the operation has already pushed the crucial Sankeys Road to Traveston Road section of the project to a major new milestone.
A Transport and Main Roads Department spokesperson says the project recently passed the one million-cubic metre mark, in terms of the volume of earth dug up and moved on the site. That has all happened in less than four months.
And even that has been despite lengthy periods of work-delaying rain.
Since major work began late last year, an average of 35,000 cubic metres of earth a day has been shifted as part of bulk earthworks for what a department spokesperson described as “the most critical section of the upgrade”.
When the bulk earthworks’ package is completed later this year, more than five million cubic metres of rock and dirt will have been levelled, relocated and used as fill.
Massive equipment on the site includes several 125-tonne excavators, each able to dwarf their accompanying giant mining dump trucks.
Caterpillar D11 dozers, each weighing more than 110 tonnes, are used not only as bulldozers but for moving large quantities of dirt and rock short distances, as well as push-loading the 16 giant Caterpillar 651 scrapers, which do a lot of the hard rock digging.
Meanwhile, work has also started on the second construction package, which will involve building a 2km southern deviation off the existing highway between Middle Creek Road and Sankeys Road.
The deviation will allow for construction of new bridges over Skyring Creek and will eventually become part of the new highway alignment.
It is anticipated that construction of the full Section B will be completed in 2012, weather permitting, the spokesperson said.