Work starts on Witney Street boom gates
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THREE and a half years after a local man lost his life there, work on installing boom gates at the Witney Street rail crossing finally began yesterday.
Despite years of lobbying and the item appearing in two Gladstone City Council budgets, it has taken up until now for action to be taken.
In May 2002, Joe Rogers lost his life at the rail crossing when his car collided with a train.
Six months before the tragedy, Gladstone City Councillor Matt Burnett called for the installation of boom gates.
Then in June last year, more than two years after the accident, the council included the boom gates in its budget, earning the praise of Cr Burnett and residents in the area.
Some 17 months later, Queensland Rail has finally finished design work and work has commenced on the crossing.
Yesterday Cr Burnett said with two schools and a retirement village in the area, the safety of locals had led his passionate push for the boom gates.
'"I watch kids go across here all the time. It is dangerous so it's great to see some action finally taken,' Cr Burnett said.
However Cr Burnett hasn't stopped at Witney Street, renewing calls for boom gates to be installed at the nearby Mercury Street crossing.
The council has already asked Queensland Rail to install boom gates at Mercury Street, with the request being denied.
Mr Rogers' daughter Julie Marshall was unable to be contacted yesterday, but in past media reports she has taken a swipe at the lack of action at the crossing where her father was killed.
After the council budgeted $120,000 in 2004, Queensland Rail took nine months to complete the design work and order materials.
Due to the delays in design, initial cost estimates came up short and the council had to allocate an extra $35,000 for the project in this year's budget.
A Queensland Rail spokesperson would not comment on the delays, stating that the installation of the boom gates was one of 45 level crossing upgrades. The spokesperson said the Witney Street crossing would be completed by the end of the year.